By Jason Gonzalez
In less than 24 hours, the city of Toronto will host its first world title fight in three decades. The light heavyweight scrap between WBC champion Adonis Stevenson and former two-division titlist Badou Jack is one of the better matchups that could be made in the 2018 boxing calendar.
Stevenson, now 29-1, (24) and Jack, 21-1-3, (13) will lock horns in the main event at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night. If you take into consideration the absence of an existing boxing culture in “The 6”, then obviously Stevenson-Jack is the biggest fight to be showcased in the metropolis in the last 30 years.
The May 19 bout between the two top 175 pound fighters had been mentioned to take place, during a glamourous media event on the east side of Manhattan, just four months ago. However, Stevenson-Jack wasn’t formally announced until April 23, exactly three weeks to the date. Prior to the formal presser, the only thing that had been clear to the public was the date and the hosting country.
Stevenson, a 41-year-old Haitian southpaw from Montreal, has reigned as champion since 2013. It was five years ago when Stevenson starched Chad Dawson in one round to capture the crown. However, during his tenure as champion, Stevenson has been on the receiving end of countless criticism. He has been viewed as fighting less than stellar competition as well as being inactive. But by challenging Jack, Stevenson has put all the talk to rest.
Now at 34, Jack a native of Sweden, but now living and fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, relinquished the WBA strap, which he won after stopping Nathan Cleverly in the co-feature bout of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor card back in August.
So how it will all play out on fight night? Stevenson definitely has the edge in power. Jack has youth on his side as well as the physical advantages. It’s ironic that Jack is the bigger man, but yet he is the one moving up from super middleweight . Unfortunately, there aren’t enough writers talking about this. Lastly, both fighters have been knocked out in the past. So there is a potential that both fighters have “suspect chins”.
Stevenson-Jack is the epitome of a 50/50 contest. A valid argument can be made for either fighter winning the contest. However, it would be tough to go against the intangibles that Jack brings to the table. Jack has been in the ring with some pretty good fighters. Fighters such as Lucian Bute, Anthony Dirrell, James DeGale, and George Groves to just name a few. Jack is battle tested, and in comparison to Stevenson’s body of work, Jack has fought much better opposition. But credit to Stevenson for stepping up and accepting the challenge.
Stevenson-Jack will be the second bout of a split-site double header on Showtime (10 p.m.ET/PT) that will also include Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr. at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Lastly, you would be remiss to question if the people of Toronto had enough time to purchase tickets and properly support this event.
Prevailing wisdom would suggest that three weeks isn’t enough. It wouldn’t be shocking to see a slew of empty seats disguised as people.
But time will tell.