WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson (22-1, 19 KO) proved he was more than just a banger on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Superman punished Tavoris Cloud (24-2) for seven rounds before the challenger's corner mercifully stopped the fight.
Before his impressive performance on Saturday, Stevenson had been known for his explosive punching power exclusively.
He won the title by knocking out Chad Dawson with one punch in the first round of their bout in June. Perhaps he felt the need to show more of his talents, or maybe it was just the smarter game plan, but behind a steady, stiff jab and surprising hand speed, Stevenson made himself look like a superstar.
Stevenson swept the fight on HBO's Harold Lederman's scorecard through six rounds, per HBO Boxing.
Welterweight contender Zab Judah summed it up nicely.
Promoter Lou DiBella said Stevenson looked like a legend in the ring on Saturday.
Cloud had cuts over both eyes and he looked just as beaten up mentally as he was physically. He didn't have the hand speed to land against Stevenson on a consistent basis. The champion effectively changed levels and his southpaw stance seemed to give Cloud an issue as well.
The champion's body work was just as impressive as his shots to the head. At the beginning of the fourth round, his trainer Sugar Hill urged him to turn up the pressure. Stevenson did that with counter uppercuts and whacking shots to Cloud's midsection.
With this impressive defense of his title, Stevenson should have his sights set on bigger and better things. Undefeated WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev would seem to be a logical future opponent. The up-and-coming Russian's name was mentioned to Stevenson, but he was at least non-committal in his response to the concept of fighting Kovalev.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix implied Stevenson may not even know that Kovalev holds a share of the 175-pound crown.
Most fans would love an opportunity to see Stevenson and Kovalev clash, but there are obviously no guarantees that happens.
As for Cloud, it seems the book is out on him. The same type of lateral movement Bernard Hopkins employed to defeat him in March was used by Stevenson on Saturday. With two straight bad losses, Cloud's career is headed downward fast.
Unless there are major changes made—which seems very unlikely—we've probably seen the last of him as a serious contender in the light heavyweight division.
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