By Jason Gonzalez
Light heavyweights Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack collided head-on in an action packed, seesaw battle in the main event last night at the Air Canada Centre. Unfortunately the conclusion was anti-climactic. After witnessing 12 hard fought rounds between both men, fight fans can only walk away with their opinion as to who won.
Without an official consensus, Stevenson and Jack had to settle for a majority draw. The scorecards read 115-113 for Jack which was superseded by the other two scores of 114-114 apiece. The silver lining for Stevenson is that he retains his WBC light heavyweight title, thus earning the ninth defense of his strap. Stevenson also earned a newfound respect by the masses by answering several questions that the boxing pundits had prior to fight.
“I won the fight because I hurt him to the body,” said Stevenson.
As for Jack, there was a stark contrast to the fly in the ointment. This is draw number four. What’s going on? Is he being screwed out of nods that he should have gotten? Or is he dodging bullets? Whatever the case may be, it seems as if Jack just can’t get over the hump.
Maxboxing.com scored it 115-113 (7-5) for Stevenson from press row.
It was very taxing and captivating bout that saw both fighters enjoy stretches of success. And although it may have seemed as if Jack looked the better of the two at the finish line, he did do very little early on. So instead of pointing fingers at others for not liking his promoter [Floyd Mayweather] he might want to put the blame where it really lies.
The 34-year-old Jack, a Las Vegas based Swede, was content staying on the outside. Exhibiting reluctance, Jack was throwing punches few and far in between. For Jack, rounds one through three resembles less aggression and more sporadic offense. Guessing that he sensed that he may have been down several points on the scorecards, Jack turned up in the middle rounds.
He began to let his hands go with more frequency and with more evil intent. But to Stevenson’s credit, he showed excellent footwork (lateral movement) and was able to cut the ring off effectively on his counterpart.
“I thought I definitely won the fight,” said Jack. “No judge had him winning.”
By the fifth round, the 40-year-old Stevenson, a native of Haiti, now living in Montreal, Canada, matched Jack’s aggression, ultimately hurting him with a body shot. Stevenson’s onslaught continued in the sixth.
Stevenson, 29-1-1 (24), a southpaw, invested blows to the midsection of Jack, which paid dividends. The punches appeared to wear down Jack. However, Jack, 21-1-(13), showed grit and resilience. Jack didn’t only manage to survive the round, but finished strong, thus carrying the momentum into the seventh round.
By this juncture, it was obvious that the fight might be slipping away from Jack, and he had to fight with some sense of urgency. In Jack’s case, history does have a of repeating itself. Was he fighting to win or to not lose?
The concern moving forward as the fight progressed brought one too many voices in the corner of Jack. There appeared to be some discrepancy between himself and his head trainer Lou De Valle. Mayweather was shouting instructions to Jack. It hard to decipher what had transpired, it did seem as if Jack was listening to Mayweather instead of his trainer.
In the second half of the fight, Jack seemed to have swept rounds seven through nine. Jack was also fighting with the referee. In one of the middle rounds, Jack mounted a nice offensive rally that was eventually abated by the official. Jack was warned for stepping on Stevenson’s foot.
The 10 or 15 seconds it took for the arbitrator to reprimand Jack, bought Stevenson some time to recover. It was plain to see that Jack was banking on Stevenson fading late in the fight. The plan backfired in rounds 10 and 11 as Stevenson fought with a second wind, in which he answered any questions pertaining to his level of endurance. Stevenson would hurt Jack badly, with head shots that prompted Jack to retreat on his bicycle.
Throughout the contest there were spots in which Stevenson was stunned, however, not to the point in which he was in jeopardy of being knocked out. His chin held up, and his legs never betrayed him. Even more impressively was that it was done against stiff competition. Prior to fighting Jack, Stevenson had faced limited opposition, which made us wonder if he would meet expectations if he ever chose to step it up.
Stevenson gave a good showing of himself, silencing all that doubted him.
In the 12th and final round, Stevenson and Jack went for broke. He dominated the first 2:30 of the frame. Jack would win the last 0:30 seconds of the fight by landing thudding shots that hurt his adversary. Stevenson was visibly hurt, as he stumbled while looking for his corner.
All three judges scored the final stanza for Jack. In retrospect, hindsight is always 20/20. Jack is going to regret not getting into an offensive rhythm sooner.
A fight between upper echelon prize fighters should leave no doubt. But instead we have more questions to ask after what was observed. Where does Jack go from here? Well, it wouldn’t make sense to look in the direction of the other champions such as Sergey Kovalev, Dmitry Bivol, and Artur Beterbiev.
A rematch with Stevenson is appropriate.
“I feel good. I can go another 12 rounds,” said Jack. “I want a rematch. I know that he can’t go to the United States, so we can do it again in the U.K. [United Kingdom]. Adonis Stevenson knows that he didn’t win that fight. I should have the WBC title here with me right now.”
It is imperative that Jack get over the hump. He always falls short of attaining greatness. He has to win the “big one” and until he does, Jack will be viewed as just merely having potential. Jack’s level of talent in the ring should merit more.
This scrap dictated a narrative that suggested that Stevenson may have been a lot better than people initially gave him credit for. Stevenson is open to a rematch. However, due to previous criminal conviction, his options of fighting outside of Canada aren’t realistic. So would it be Canada again?
“Of course I want the rematch baby,” said Stevenson. “We can do it right here again in Canada baby. I won the fight. But we can do it again, wherever, it doesn’t matter to me.”
One quick fight night postscript, the official attendance was never disclosed to the media.