After five years and nine successful title defenses, the long light heavyweight title reign of Adonis Stevenson came crashing down tonight in Quebec City, and Oleksandr Gvozdyk announced his arrival as an elite light heavyweight.
Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KO) knocked out Stevenson (29-2-1, 24 KO) at 2:49 of the 11th round to win the WBC and lineal championships, ending a reign that began in 2013 for “Superman” Stevenson.’
Both fighters started relatively tentatively in the opening couple of rounds, with Stevenson probably deserving the nod in those frames. But having felt it out a bit, Gvozdyk got a bit more comfortable in the third, and scored what should have been called a knockdown, but the referee didn’t give it to him.
The fight stayed competitive, but Gvozdyk seemed to get the better of most rounds until the ninth and 10th, when Stevenson got himself back into the fight somewhat, hurting Gvozdyk in the 10th round. In fact, Gvozdyk was knocked into the ropes on a left hand, and another knockdown arguably should have been called there, but wasn’t.
Then, in the 11th, Gvozdyk started to bear down, and found a consistent home for his right hand. A series of blows — right hand, left hook, and two more right hands — put Stevenson down hard in the corner, and just like that, it was over, with the referee waving things off without bothering to count.
Gvozdyk, 31, now officially joins a talented field at the top of the light heavyweight division, which includes the likes of Eleider Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol, Badou Jack, and perhaps still Sergey Kovalev. Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Stevenson is at an age where retirement has to be a legitimate thought for him — he’s done about all he’s going to do in the sport, and there may simply not be anything he’s much inclined to go after anymore.