by Fox Doucette
Hey, that super middleweight from Montreal is on TV this week! No, not Lucian Bute. The other super middleweight, the black guy, the dude that beat the crap out of Jesus Gonzales, y’know, the starching that was all over YouTube? Yeah, that guy. Adonis Stevenson (17-1, 14 KOs) looks to make a place for himself outside of his more famous stablemate’s shadow as he takes on Noe Gonzalez (28-1, 20 KOs) in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from the Bell Centre in Montreal. The co-feature brings us unbeaten heavyweight Oscar Rivas (9-0, 6 KOs) taking on Kendrick Releford (22-16-2, 10 KOs), best known for getting beaten like a piñata by Chris Arreola in Reno last May on FNF.
Adonis Stevenson would seem, at 34, to be far too old to be a prospect, but notwithstanding an utterly inexplicable pasting at the hands of Darnell Boone in 2010 (who entered that fight 16-15-2, having lost five in a row before he smacked Stevenson around for barely over a round), Stevenson has had a solid career as a professional. He was last seen on ESPN2 a year ago knocking out Derek Edwards, a fight easily forgotten considering it immediately preceded David Lemieux getting his Montreal street brawler ass handed to him by Marco Antonio Rubio in the main event that same night. In addition, there was the previously mentioned demolition of Jesus Gonzales, that coming in his last fight just two short months ago for the #2 ranking in the IBF and a potential title shot against champion Lucian Bute (which would surely be a massive local draw in Montreal should the IBF be able to mandate that fight).
Stevenson also owns wins over Aaron Pryor Jr. and a slew of guys with good records who were on their way to professional opponent status. When one accounts for the fact that Stevenson was late to the pro game (making his pro debut eight days after turning 29, in 2006) and has 18 pro fights, the level of competition is what one would expect from someone who has serious aspirations toward snaring a title before his body begins to betray him as he ages. This may come later than most for Stevenson; a guy who didn’t turn pro until 29 and only has 59 rounds to his ledger is going to “fight younger” than his 34 years.
Across the ring from Stevenson is a guy with similar edge-of-the-big-boys credentials. Noe Gonzalez has held the WBC’s “Silver” belt at 168, in theory making him the mandatory challenger first to Carl Froch and then, when Super Six finished up, Andre Ward. Leaving aside the bogus trinket element, it is noteworthy that “Silver” is the same level that Vanes Martirosyan holds at 154 and that Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto throw down for in June at 147. Make of that what you will—the apples may be rotten, but it’s still an apples-to-apples comparison.
Gonzalez has, in the course of his campaign as a pro, fought generally weaker competition than has Stevenson, beating up an array of nobodies, club fighters, and puffed records. His lone genuine challenge is also his lone loss; Felix Sturm beat Gonzalez silly for twelve rounds en route to a unanimous decision for Sturm’s WBA middleweight crown in 2007. A question could be raised whether going the distance with Felix Sturm was evidence of a chin on Gonzalez or simply Sturm’s barely better than Paulie Malignaggi knockout power. Adonis Stevenson, a very hard power puncher (as he showed in the Jesus Gonzales fight as well as in all of his past seven wins), will prove a stout test of what may or may not be a stout set of whiskers. The fight should be fun, although given the recent reminders we have had in boxing about house fighters, fans should not be under any illusion about the decision if the fight is close. Gonzalez will be facing four opponents for the price of one Friday night; the one punching him in the literal stomach and the three waiting to punch him in the metaphorical stomach.
UPDATE: The televised co-feature will be Eleider Alvarez (7-0, 5 KOs), of Montreal via Colombia, taking on Pittsburgh fighter Rayco Saunders (22-15-2, 9 KOs). Click HERE for more details.
Meanwhile, in the co-feature, we get to see Kendrick Releford again. To say Releford is “vulnerable to the uppercut” is to say that popular music is “vulnerable to AutoTune”. Chris Arreola showed everyone the blueprint to beating Releford apart from simply imposing superior skill and athleticism; get inside on Releford and knock his head off with uppercuts, since his guard is easier to split than good firewood. Releford has now lost three in a row, including his most recent defeat, an eight-round unanimous decision loss to unbeaten-in-33 Malik Scott two months ago. Note that Scott has knocked out only eleven of those 33 opponents, so going the distance says little about Releford’s chin, especially when compared against the loud noise Chris Arreola’s fists made in saying things about Releford’s chin.
Oscar Rivas, for his part, has six knockouts, including going four-for-four in his last four contests spanning a total of only eight rounds of action. Granted, Rivas has fought mostly journeymen and who-dats; except for 3-0 Zsolt Zathureczky, his best opponent record-wise brought a 14-7 record into the fight and took a three-round powder out of it. Kendrick Releford’s 22-16-2 mark fits that recent pattern in Rivas’ opponents (the last of his conquests, Ivica Perkovic, brought a 15-12 mark into their contest in February.)
This will be an interesting battle; Rivas is the favored prospect (with the same judge advantage likely in store since he too is from Montreal, while Releford is from Texas) who will be looking to continue to prove his power as he ascends the heavyweight ranks. Releford, however, is more experienced, even if that experience has mostly been losses to anyone with even a modicum of boxing ability.
Fans should root for knockouts Friday night; boxing does not need another judging debacle. Tune into ESPN2 and ESPN3.com Friday, April 20th, at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific, for the night’s action. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised bouts, including any swing fights that make air, following the conclusion of the program. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and thinking you can beat me to the “Montreal Screwjob” headline in case of bogus decision (I am so on that already, dude) can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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