By Sean Crose
Adonis Stevenson stepped into the ring on Saturday night a heavy favorite and a popular man. He was fighting on his home turf of Montreal, after all. He was also battling a tough but seemingly limited opponent in Andrzej Fonfara. It was supposed to be an easy night for the Kronk knockout artist.
And it almost was a very easy night indeed.
After spending the first part of round one looking fairly impressive, Fonfara went down as the result of a patented Stevenson left. It looked like the fight was over. But it wasn’t. Somehow, Fonfara held on.
What’s more, he entered the second round swinging. He landed a decent left on Stevenson within the first thirty seconds then took a solid Stevenson shot very well. People could say what they wanted to about the Polish brawler, but Fonfara had come to Canada to win.
While there was little doubt Stevenson won round two, Fonfara was at least being game. Still, Stevenson went on to control the third with thudding shots – both to the body as well as to the head. Fonfara was landing some good lefts, but he wasn’t landing many points.
Heading into the middle rounds, a pattern had developed: Stevenson would thud away and Fonfara would keep standing, occasionally landing a shot of his own. It wasn’t thrilling, but it wasn’t boring either. The fact that Fonfara was still game gave the whole affair an element of intrigue.
Yet even gamesmanship has its limits. By the fifth, Fonfara was down again, thanks to a brutal Stevenson body blow. He survived yet again, however, and made it into the halfway round of the fight.
Again, Fonfara was landing some clean shots, but they were few and far between. What’s more, Stevenson’s body shots were tearing the man to pieces. Fonfara wasn’t easy work, but Stevenson was getting the job done.
Then…things started to change. In the seventh, Stevenson seemed to tire. In the eighth, Fonfara began to dominate at moments. Before the ninth, Stevenson looked to be breathing heavily in his corner.
And in the ninth, Stevenson went down.
That’s right…Stevenson went down. Then he got rocked a few more times. The round was Fonfara’s and Stevenson looked to be in trouble. Not only was he getting tagged – he looked exhausted.
That didn’t keep Stevenson from going to blood in the tenth. Once again, it looked like the fight might be over. Yet, once again, Fonfara held strong. One thing was certain, however, Fonfara needed a knockout to win the fight.
The opening of the eleventh saw more brutality being dished out by Stevenson. As always, though, Fonfara held strong, but he simply wasn’t dishing out the punches he needed to in order to steal a victory away from the light heavyweight champion. Give Stevenson credit – his bodywork on Saturday was amazing.
Fonfara went down at the start of the twelfth, but it was a slip, not a punch that caused him to hit the canvas. Getting up, Fonfara chopped away at Stevenson as best he could. It was all out war, but Stevenson carried the night, winning the twelfth and holding on to his title by unanimous decision.
Still, Fonfara gave Stevenson quite the scare, enough of a scare to make one wonder how Stevenson would do against a master like Bernard Hopkins, the man he’s vocally dreamed of fighting. Is Stevenson, fans might well have asked, really the dominant force he’s been made out to be?
Several months ago, Stevenson created a controversy by avoiding a bout with Sergey Kovalev, his feared Russian counterpart. It may have been the smartest thing Stevenson could have done.