It's been a rocky year over at Showtime Sports. Following a big 2013 that saw the network form a strong pact with Golden Boy Promotions, and lure Floyd Mayweather from HBO Sports with a record-breaking deal, Showtime saw the air-tight relationship with Golden Boy crumble after the departure of Richard Schaefer, and has had to offer up a lot of mediocre main events over the course of the year.
But all is not as bad as is sometimes made out. They still have Mayweather, undoubtedly the biggest pay-per-view star in the sport today, far surpassing Manny Pacquiao at this point. And with guys like Amir Khan, Keith Thurman (for now), Danny Garcia (for now), Adrien Broner (for now), and Adonis Stevenson, they still have some exciting fighters in their primes, or on the rise.
Showtime officially closes their year with a special ShoBox event tomorrow night, but tonight's four-fight bill from Quebec City is their final major event of the year. Here's why you should tune in!
1. Adonis Stevenson is still, technically speaking, the No. 1 light heavyweight
Sergey Kovalev is the best light heavyweight in the sport, if you ask me, or you ask a lot of other people, probably, but technically speaking, Adonis Stevenson remains The Man in the division. He's the WBC titleholder, and while Kovalev does hold the other three major sanctioning body belts, Kovalev does not have the distinction of being lineal champion. Stevenson does.
So, technically, even if you think Kovalev is the best, like I do, Stevenson beat the man who beat the man, and he's technically No. 1. If you believe in that, anyway, and if you don't, I get it. In boxing, it's all nonsense from broken lineages and other mess.
2. Adonis Stevenson is still very fun to watch
Dmitry Sukhotsky figures to be a little overmatched (at best) tonight, but the good news is that Stevenson has highlight reel KO power, and he looks for knockouts. And he looks for them early. This could be a short night, or it might drag on. The question might be more whether Sukhotsky can hang around and neutralize enough of Stevenson's attack to go deep into the fight.
3. "The Matrix" is back! Again!
Andre Dirrell is back in action tonight on the undercard, facing Derek Edwards. Despite Edwards' TKO-1 upset of Badou Jack earlier this year, he's really right along the same lines as all of Dirrell's recent opponents, whom he's mowed down in his back-with-Al Haymon comeback run.
And despite the fact that the opposition is weak and thus I'm not giving him worlds of credit for these wins, I have genuinely enjoyed what I've seen of Dirrell. He seems a different guy mentally, for one thing. We'll have to see how he handles adversity eventually (or maybe not), because that's never been his strong suit before, but just his interviews tell some of the story for me. He's carrying himself a lot more confidently these days. Is that something he addressed during his time away from the ring? If so, great. Dirrell has a ton of talent. If he's stronger mentally than he used to be, then he's a huge danger to anyone at 168 or 175 pounds.
4. ARTUR BETERBIEV
Beterbiev's first five pro fights were wipeouts, and then he signed up to face former IBF titleholder Tavoris Cloud. Now, Tavoris Cloud is no elite fighter, and never really was, but what Beterbiev did to him in September was extremely impressive. He hurt Cloud immediately and just plain trounced the dude. While not a world-beater, Cloud is also not a bum. For Beterbiev to finish him off in two rounds in just his sixth pro fight said a lot about what this guy can do, and it got many of us very excited.
Is Beterbiev the next breakthrough Eastern Bloc fighter? The Russian is 29, has a very strong amateur pedigree, big punching power, and skills. First Golovkin, then Kovalev, next Beterbiev?
5. It's the holiday season
C'mon, do it for your old pals at Showtime.