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Does Adonis Stevenson Fear Serious Competition?

By Sean Crose

First it was Sergey Kovalev. Then it was Bernard Hopkins. Now Jean Pascal might join the growing list of name boxers who light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson won’t get in the ring with. There’s not much worse for a fighter than being accused of cowardice, but fans are now seriously starting to ask why Stevenson just isn’t facing serious competition.

After destroying Chad Dawson in under three minutes Stevenson was expected to fight fellow hard hitting champion Kovalev in a major HBO bout. Yet Stevenson opted to go over to rival network Showtime instead.

No major fight for Stevenson. No major threat.

While at Showtime, Stevenson was expected to battle the iconic Hopkins. According to Hopkins, however, Stevenson’s camp dragged its heels regarding the potential fight – so Hopkins decided to fight Kovalev on HBO.

No major fight for Stevenson. No major threat.

Now the camp of the talented Pascal is claiming that Stevenson’s people are unwilling to match the two fighters in what would be a major Canadian bout. Apparently other, less threatening boxers are being eyed as potential Stevenson opponents instead.

No major fight for Stevenson. No major threat.

The truth is, only Stevenson knows why he’s not fighting worthy adversaries. Or perhaps even he isn’t so sure why. Stevenson, after all, is a member of boxing guru Al Haymons’ stable of A-list fighters. And Haymon fighters are apt to say they trust in Haymon absolutely. In other words, at least some of these men are publicly willing to admit they let Haymon do their thinking for them.

It’s worth noting that Haymon’s pugs are widely rumored to face lukewarm competition rather than face those most likely to put a check in their loss columns. Critics argue this reputed strategy is greatly harming the sport.

Yet the stats indicate there are a significant number of people who are willing to buy what Haymon is accused of selling. This past summer’s horrible mismatch between Haymon fighter Danny Garcia and unknown Rod Salka, for instance, got better ratings than the very competitive bout between Haymon fighter Shawn Porter and the skilled Brit Kell Brook, which aired several weeks later.

There is clearly a new breed of fan which is happy to see fighters make healthy checks for little work. Such a fan was unheard of in the 80s and 90s, but the Kardashain era has given the sport of boxing followers which fit in snugly with the times. It’s conceivable, then, than Stevenson could continue to fight less than stellar opposition while bringing in impressive sums of money.

Could it be, though, that it’s not Haymon, but Stevenson himself, who doesn’t want to get in the ring with someone who represents a serious threat to his title? Stevenson has the final say, after all. He, not Haymon, has the ultimate power to say yes or no.

It’s worth noting that Stevenson’s age is closer to 40 than it is to 30. What’s more, his greatest victory was against a Chad Dawson who had been crushed by Andre Ward. On top of all that, Andrzej Fonfara, Stevenson’s last opponent, actually put the hard hitting Canadian on mat. Sure, Stevenson won the bout, but he certainly didn’t live up to his nickname of Superman.

It’s also worth noting that Pascal has faced far greater competition than Stevenson has. The same obviously goes for Hopkins (has anyone EVER had a resume like Hopkins?). Also, after his very next bout, Kovalev will have arguably battled better competition, as well.

Stevenson can remain the true light heavyweight champion of the world for quite some time. Unless he starts signing contracts with real threats, however, Stevenson will continue to have a question mark hanging over him. Is he a champion who does honor to his title?

Or is he a new breed of champion for a new breed of fan?

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