by Johnny Walker
This afternoon at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada, Quebec-based fighters ruled the day as lineal light-heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson cruised to a win over tough veteran Sakio Bika, while the most impressive performance was delivered by rapidly rising star Artur Bieterbiev, who showed supreme ring acumen and frightening power in disposing of challenger Gabriel Campillo via a crushing knockout.
In the first televised bout as CBS got back into the boxing game on Saturday afternoons, Artur Bieterbiev of Russia, now based in Montreal, made it clear why light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, who has been squabbling with the Bieterbiev camp for the last few weeks in increasingly nasty back-and-forth exchanges, sees his Russian rival as such a threat.
Quite frankly, Bieterbiev (8-0, 8 KOs) looks ready to challenge anybody in the light-heavyweight division right now.
He dominated Campillo (25-7-1, 12 KOs) from the opening bell, dropping the challenger in round one via a sweeping right hand power shot. Campillo survived though veteran skill and savvy, but it was already clear that it was just a matter of time.
Astutely, after seeing that a head shot didn’t do in his opponent immediately, Bieterbiev then spent rounds two and three pounding the body of Campillo as if the latter were a heavy bag in the gym. Even the thudding sound of his shots hurt to listen to, so one can imagine being on the end of them. Campillo’s strength was rapidly ebbing as round three came to a close, Bieterbiev landing a big right hand that sent the wincing opponent to his corner. Campillo was clearly just about done.
Bieterbiev smelled blood and came out in round four determined to close the show. After a few more brutal body shots that brought Campillo’s hands down, the Russian went upstairs for a vicious right hand that knocked his opponent senseless, followed by a left that a sporting Bieterbiev appeared to partly pull as he merely turned away, his opponent’s body slumping toward the mat.
Artur Bieterbiev was declared winner by knockout at 2:23 of round four.
“I’m very happy to be on the big stage on CBS at such an early point in my professional career. This all came together very quickly and I hope to be back soon,” said the impressive Bieterbiev.
“We’re planning to fight again in May and I’ll leave whoever my opponent will be in God’s hands.”
Then came time for hometown Haitian-Canadian hero Adonis “Superman” Stevenson to make his appearance against veteran Sakio Bika.
To no one’s surprise, the always tough and awkward Bika put up a decent challenge for the champion, who is actually two years older than Bika.
But the pupil of the late Emanuel Steward and product of Kronk Gym in Detroit mostly has it his own way for the 12 round affair.
Stevenson (26-1, 21 KOs) had hoped to be the first man to knock Bika (32-7-3, 21 KOs) out, but had to settle for knocking him down twice, once albeit more a slip than a knockdown.
After an even opening round, Stevenson gradually managed to warm-up and staggered Bika with a patented left hand power shot in round two. Bika rallied in round three, landing some solid left jabs and a hard right, these perhaps nullified by a wicked left hand scored by “Superman” at the bell to end the round.
Stevenson was in his comfort zone by round four, landing huge left hands for fun and totally outclassing the game Bika.
In round five, Bika was clearly shaken by a left hand and went to the mat in what was called a slip. He was soon hurt again and Stevenson was enjoying himself enough to do some Ali-style clowning with a “bolo-punch” wind-up at the round’s end. The next round played out much the same way, with Bika attempting to rally, only to be cut short by another hard left from Adonis, in which Bika hit the mat in another “slip.” After scoring with some huge body shots, a confident Stevenson then did his version of the “Ali-shuffle” to entertain the fans.
Stevenson took a round off in stanza seven, and Bika did his best to take advantage of that occurrence, scoring with nice right hook and doing enough to perhaps win a round.
Bika tried to keep that momentum in round eight, trading some hard left hand shots with Stevenson, and again, maybe stealing a round from the champ.
Stevenson got his second wind in round nine. After landing some nifty combinations, “Superman” softened Bika up with a massive shot to the body, bringing the latter’s hands down just in time for a short hard left to connect with his chin, and Bika was now on the mat with a legitmate knockdown.
Round 10 saw Stevenson with visions of being the first man to stop the rugged Bika dancing in his head, and he scored at will with combinations and huge left hands, but Bika hung in there, as is his trademark, and even staged a mini-comeback in round 11, scoring with a big left-right combo of his own.
Round 12 was an entertaining exercise in machismo, as after a period spent mugging each other on the ropes, Stevenson basically offered up his supposedly fragile chin for Bika to smack, and proved that even a solid connect by his opponent only brought laughter from the champ. Both men than engaged in some gunslinger antics, egging each other on in toughman contest style. After absorbing a big right hand from Bika, a bemused Stevenson offered up another version of the “Ali Shuffle” (the “Superman Shuffle”?) to end the fight.
The scores were a bit closer than might have been anticipated in the champion’s home province: 115-111, 116-110, and 115-110, all for the winner, Adonis Stevenson.
“He’s a tough fighter,” “Superman” said of Bika after the match. “I dropped him, but he’s a tough competitor.
“Being involved with Premier Boxing Champions and fighting on CBS has been a great experience. This is fantastic for boxing and we’re hoping more and more kids will start getting involved in the sport.
“As far as what’s next, I’ll wait and see what Al (Haymon) has for me. I’ll be ready to go again by June or July.”
Stevenson also thanked his late Hall of Fame trainer, Emanuel Steward, following his victory.