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Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2013

Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    Stevenson's shocking knockout of Dawson made him the top dog at light heavyweight.
    Stevenson's shocking knockout of Dawson made him the top dog at light heavyweight.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The WBC Light Heavyweight Championship will be on the line this Saturday night from the Bell Centre in Montreal as champion Adonis Stevenson defends against former belt-holder Tavoris Cloud.

    Stevenson won the title this past June with a shocking one-round demolition of former champion Chad Dawson. The fight lasted only 76 seconds and ended when a Stevenson left cross nearly ejected Dawson from the arena. It was a statement-making victory and one the champion hopes he'll continue to build upon this weekend.

    Cloud is a former light heavyweight belt-holder who has fallen on hard times his last two fights. He struggled to retain his IBF title with a hotly disputed decision victory over Gabriel Campillo in early 2012 and then lost the title to Bernard Hopkins by clear unanimous decision this past March. He'll be looking to rebound and re-establish his position in the 175-pound division with a win.

    The fight is sure to be exciting, and both guys have great punching power, so it might not last long. Read on for our complete preview and prediction for this Saturday's big championship fight!

Tale of the Tape

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    Cloud struggled against Hopkins' legendary defense.
    Cloud struggled against Hopkins' legendary defense.Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Both Stevenson and Cloud are lethal power punchers who have the ability to end the night with one big shot. Whenever you have two men with knockout percentages over 75 percent (Stevenson's is over 80), there is a possibility of a quick, explosive conclusion.

    Neither guy is particularly fond of allowing his fights to go on too long. Stevenson averages less than four rounds a fight, and Cloud isn't far behind at just under five rounds. So don't blink.

    Cloud possesses a two-inch reach advantage, but he'll need to figure out a way to neutralize Stevenson's southpaw stance in order to make it count. That's easier said than done.

     

     

    Record:

    Adonis Stevenson

    21-1, 18 KO

    Tavoris Cloud

    24-1, 19 KO

    Height:

    5'11"

    5'10"

    Reach:

    72"

    74"

    Weight:

    174.25 (last fight)

    173.75 (last fight)

    Stance:

    Southpaw

    Orthodox

    Hometown:

    Port-au-Prince, Haiti

    Tallahassee, Florida

    Rounds:

    80

    123

    *Profiles via BoxRec.

     

Main Storylines

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    Stevenson has massive punching power.
    Stevenson has massive punching power.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Adonis Stevenson captured his first world championship with a stunning 76-second blowout of Chad Dawson this past June. It was surprising, even to those who picked Stevenson to win, that he was able to blast through the recognized world champion with such ease and in such emphatic fashion.

    Dawson had been easily handled by Andre Ward in his ill-fated move to super middleweight in his previous fight, and that led some to question whether he was the same fighter in the aftermath. Stevenson will be making his first defense of the championship, and he'll need to prove that he's legit and didn't luck out against a diminished fighter.

    Tavoris Cloud should've lost his light heavyweight belt to Gabriel Campillo in 2012, but he escaped with a disputed decision. He wasn't as lucky in his last fight and dropped a clear decision—and the belt—to the ageless Bernard Hopkins.

    That's not the two-fight stretch you want behind you coming into the biggest fight of your career. Cloud has the ability to erase all of those bad memories and become the legitimate light heavyweight champion of the world on Saturday night. That's a great way to make people forget about your recent struggles.

Strengths

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    Cloud is a banger and a brawler. That should make this an interesting fight.
    Cloud is a banger and a brawler. That should make this an interesting fight.Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Adonis Stevenson has huge power in his fists, but he isn't a one-trick pony. He isn't a straight-up banger who goes in guns blazing in hopes of landing one big shot to end the night. 

    He does a tremendous job of setting up his power shots by using the jab and feints to get his opponent into position for his thudding blows. That's how he was able to set up the huge shot that nearly decapitated Chad Dawson and netted him the light heavyweight championship.

    Stevenson has underrated boxing ability, and that could serve him well against the highly aggressive challenger.

    Tavoris Cloud is your prototypical straightforward power puncher. He stalks his opponents, gets on the inside and unleashes everything in his arsenal. 

    He has an extremely high work-rate for a fighter in the higher weight classes and finds success against fighters who don't attempt to utilize the ring to frustrate him with movement. 

    Like Stevenson, he has tremendous punching power and the ability to wear a guy down with his big punches over the course of the fight.

Weaknesses

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    Stevenson's knockout over Dawson has been called into question.
    Stevenson's knockout over Dawson has been called into question.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Adonis Stevenson has huge power, but many have speculated that his knockout of Chad Dawson had more to do with the diminished nature of the former champion and not the power of the shot that felled him. That might be unfair, and it's definitely Monday morning quarterbacking, but it's a question the champ needs to answer.

    If Cloud is able to take his bigger shots—as we're all but certain to find out—there will need to be a backup plan in place.

    Stevenson has knocked out over 80 percent of his opponents, but he's also been stopped once, and it wasn't a cheapy. Journeyman Darnell Boone accomplished the feat in 2010 with a huge right hand in the second round. Cloud certainly hits harder than Boone, and it'll be interesting to see how "Superman" handles it.

    Tavoris Cloud struggles against boxers who are able to utilize their footwork and movement to neutralize his high output and punching power. Luckily for him, that's not what he'll find in Adonis Stevenson.

    The former champion possesses barely the tiniest sliver of defensive ability. And most of that is contained in his—up to this point—rock-solid chin. He'll look to make this into a brawl in hopes of landing big shots that will end the fight.

    The problem is, he'll be leaving himself wide open to Stevenson's incoming bombs at the same time, and we don't know how he'll stand up to that type of assault.

Adonis Stevenson Will Win If...

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    Adonis will be jumping for joy if...
    Adonis will be jumping for joy if...Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Adonis Stevenson will need to keep this fight at a comfortable distance that allows him to utilize his lethal left hand effectively. That'll mean a little more boxing from the outside than he might be comfortable with, but with an aggressive power puncher like Cloud, it's going to be necessary. 

    The best way to deal with a straightforward puncher—of which Tavoris Cloud is the prototype—is to confound him with movement and stay away from his power. That's probably the best—and safest—path to victory for the champion, but if the bout ends up a firefight, he still has a good chance of emerging victorious.

    It'd be safer for Stevenson to win this fight from the outside—Cloud can't beat him from distance—but that may go against his nature. 

Tavoris Cloud Will Win If...

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    Cloud will look to make this into a straight-up fight.
    Cloud will look to make this into a straight-up fight.Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Tavoris Cloud will look to make this fight into a brawl at close quarters, where he figures his power and chin will be the decisive factors. If the fight gets on the inside and the two end up trading power shots, that's his best chance to win, and he'd probably be favored to come out of that scenario with the belt.

    That's really his only path to victory. He doesn't do well against fighters who aren't in front of him and use their feet to create space and tough angles. 

    Stevenson has the ability to box, but he's the type of fighter who can't pursue that strategy for an entire fight. Sooner or later, his fighting instinct will get the better of him, and Cloud will need to make him pay.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Tavoris Cloud will emerge as the recognized light heavyweight champion.
    Tavoris Cloud will emerge as the recognized light heavyweight champion.Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    They say that you should go with your gut when you're not entirely sure about something, and that's exactly where this pick comes from.

    Tavoris Cloud looked awful against Gabriel Campillo, and he looked almost as bad for long stretches against Bernard Hopkins. But both of those guys utilized their feet—and ring intelligence—to blunt Cloud's aggression by setting up tough angles and keeping away from his power. 

    Adonis Stevenson simply isn't that type of fighter. He will box, and his can be effective, but sooner or later he'll engage in a firefight with Cloud, and that's where he'll get into some trouble. 

    Cloud's chin has proven to be extremely durable throughout his career, and his power has proven decisive against an overall better class of foe than the champion. Other than Dawson—who may not have been the same fighter after Ward—we haven't seen "Superman" test his power against many world-class opponents. 

    We have seen Stevenson, however, get knocked out by a fighter with far less power than Tavoris Cloud. This fight will come down to which man has more power and can take a better punch. We don't yet know about the former, but the latter should give an advantage to the challenger. 

    Cloud will upset Stevenson in a firefight, and he'll resurrect his career in the process.

    Cloud KO 7 Stevenson

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