By: Sean Crose
On December 1st of last year, lineal and WBC world heavyweight titlist Adonis “Superman” Stevenson stepped into the ring at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City to face undefeated challenger Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Stevenson had been champion for years, since stopping Chad Dawson cold in the first round of their 2013 match. Yet, for much of his reign, the Canadian had been criticized for not facing top level opposition. That reputation was beginning to fade away, however, as Stevenson entered the Gvozdyk match. For the 31 year old challenger was a legitimate threat by any standards. What’s more, Stevenson’s previous bout had ended in a hard fought draw against the game and talented Badu Jack. Now at an age where most fighters have long ago decided to pack it in, the forty one year old Stevenson answered the opening bell that Saturday night against a much younger – and quite dangerous – foe.
Things ended about as disastrously as they could have. After slugging it out with Gvozdyk for most of the bout, the aging warrior was brutally stopped in the eleventh of the scheduled twelve round fight. Horrifically, that was only the beginning of a frightening and dark odyssey. “Shortly after the fight,” I wrote afterwards, “Stevenson was taken to Hopital de l’Enfant-Jesus. Doctor’s concluded that Stevenson had suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in need of surgery. A short time later, the fighter was placed in a medically induced coma, where he remains unconscious.”
The nightmare continued for weeks. Then, finally, late in December, Stevenson’s girlfriend Simone “Sis” God informed the press “that Adonis is awake. He is healing from his injury in the private company of his family and his dedicated medical team. Adonis is a world champion in the ring and is exhibiting that same grit, strength and determination in his recovery.” Since the good news broke that the former champion was out of his coma, Stevenson has made progress, enough progress to appear at the WBCs annual convention in Mexico this week.
“The most emotional occasion of the Convention,” the WBC states, “was Adonis Stevenson walking up on to the stage the Grand Oasis Arena to receive a Champion of Life belt for his extraordinary, valiant fight of his life to overcome a serious traumatic brain injury in the ring, which involved emergency surgery, an induced coma and constant patient therapy to get him back on his feet, battling to regain a fully functioning life.”
The Council added that Stevenson “credits his (now) Wife Sisi who never left his side during the ordeal, for saving his life thanking her and he. cried tears of loving gratitude, also thanking the WBC for its constant and magnificent help.” It was a legitimately positive moment, the kind the world of contemporary boxing tends to find far too few of. As if Stevenson’s story wasn’t enough to prove how dangerous the sport is, Gvozdyk himself had to stay at a hospital after losing the title he won from Stevenson to Artur Bieterbiev this past weekend.