Adonis Stevenson retained his WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight titles tonight in Montreal, beating Andrzej Fonfara in a fight where both hit the deck, but the action was mostly one-sided for the defending champion, who won on scores of 115-110, 115-110, and 116-109. BLH had it slightly wider, at 117-108 for Stevenson.
Stevenson (24-1, 20 KO) dropped Fonfara in the opening round, and the fight had all the hallmarks of a quick blowout at that point. But the Polish-born Chicagoan challenger hung tough, stayed in the fight, and was as gritty as they come, showing a lot of toughness while Stevenson dominated the first half of the fight, and swept the first eight rounds on our scorecard. Fonfara went down again on a body shot in the fifth round, but again valiantly battled on.
In the ninth round, though, Fonfara (25-3, 15 KO) knocked down Stevenson with a good right hand, and all of a sudden, we had a fight on our hands. Stevenson played keepaway the remainder of that round, and looked like he had pretty badly gassed out. But in the 10th, Stevenson showed his own grit and heart, turning the fight back around with a big offensive frame. They fought on through the final two rounds, with Stevenson and Fonfara trading blows, and both men doing their best to claim the night. In the end, that was Stevenson.
Asked by Showtime's Jim Gray about the knockdown in the ninth round, Stevenson replied, "Who doesn't get knocked down? Muhammad Ali, Roy Jones, all the best go down. But I came back strong. I still came back strong, because I'm a true champion."
The 36-year-old champion also said that he injured his hand injury in the bout when he hit Fonfara on the elbow, and had to box more from that point. But he took nothing away from the toughness of Fonfara, saying, "I told everybody he's strong. He was ready for the fight. I was never overlooking him, because I knew he was a tough fight. He's a true fighter."
Fonfara told Gray, "I survived because I have the heart to fight, you know? Every time he hit me, I felt his punch. He's a great fighter. I think it was a great fight, and the fans liked it. Tonight, Stevenson was better. But I'm still young. I'm just 26 years old. I'll train hard, and one day I'll be world champion."
He continued, "In the ninth round, I got him right on the chin. I didn't want to go crazy, because maybe he'd counter me. But he survived. He got knocked down, but he came back. I got knocked down, I came back. It was a good fight."
Gray's questions for Stevenson ended with probes about who will be next, as he brought up the favored fight, Showtime and Golden Boy main event guy Bernard Hopkins, but also did mention Sergey Kovalev, the name that continues to hound Stevenson.
"Bernard can be next. I'll let Al Haymon negotiate for that," Stevenson said, before asking the Montreal crowd, "All my fans, do you want Bernard Hopkins?"
Gray then shifted to Kovalev, and Stevenson continued to say what he's been saying: "No problem with Kovalev. If I fight him, I fight him. Al Haymon's going to negotiate that, with Yvon Michel. I'm the true champion."