Most expected it to be competitive, or at least action-packed. It was neither. Adonis Stevenson easily outclassed Tavoris Cloud tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal, repeatedly hurting the challenger and forcing his corner to stop the fight after seven rounds, making for a very successful first title defense for the WBC light heavyweight champ.
Stevenson (22-1, 19 KO) looked stronger and faster than Cloud (24-2, 19 KO) from the get-go, and that just never changed. A tentative Cloud failed to let his hands go all night, allowing the 36-year-old Stevenson to win not just through his sheer, freakish punching power, but also with boxing skill that looked simply beyond Cloud's level.
It can't be considered a total surprise, given that Cloud was pretty easily handled earlier this year by the crafty Bernard Hopkins, and almost everyone felt he deserved to lose in 2012 to Gabriel Campillo, too. What's surprising is not that Cloud failed tonight, but that Stevenson so thoroughly succeeded. After all, the Haitian-Canadian has not exactly been known as a stylist or a technically proficient boxer in the past, but tonight he clowned Cloud, showboating as early as round two with an Ali Shuffle, and later dropping his hands and daring Cloud to attack.
For the 31-year-old American Cloud, this is a pretty demoralizing loss. He landed maybe a handful of clean punches in the fight, couldn't deal with Stevenson's lateral movement at all, and looked at times as if he were simply a clueless nobody, rather than a former IBF titlist and supposed top contender. He made Stevenson look better than most anyone thought Stevenson was.
The final punch stats shown on HBO had Cloud throwing a measly 176 punches, landing just 36 of them (20%), compared to 108/434 (25%) for Stevenson, and it was Stevenson who landed all the damaging punches, too. Only 55 of Cloud's thrown punches were power punches, landing 15 (27%). Stevenson was 85/160 on power punches, for a devastating 53% connect rate. In other words, it was just no contest in there.
"I beat two champions in four months," Stevenson said to HBO's Max Kellerman after the fight, clearly proud of his effort as more of a boxer than just a ferocious puncher.
Asked about his future prospects, Stevenson noted that he has to face Tony Bellew first, but after that, Sergey Kovalev may be an option. "I have my mandatory next. Sergey needs to fight a couple champions, too. I'll let my promoter fix that. I don't have a problem." On January's scheduled HBO fight between Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, Stevenson said, "I'll be there watching the fight. It's an interesting fight."