by Fox Doucette
Montreal-based super middleweight Adonis Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) added another skull to carve into his sword handle as he easily dispatched Noe Gonzalez (28-2, 20 KOs) in two rounds in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. In the co-feature, Eleider Alvarez (8-0, 5 KOs) fought an easy but thoroughly boring unanimous decision win, sending journeyman Rayco Saunders (22-16-2, 9 KOs) to yet another “gave rounds and lost” paycheck as a professional opponent.
The main event was as simple a two-act play as they come. The first round featured Stevenson and Gonzalez feeling each other out, finding range, probing with jabs, and generally reluctant to fully engage in combat. After the intermission, Stevenson caught Gonzalez flush with a straight left hand that split the guard, which hurt the Uruguayan badly enough that Stevenson was able to go in for the kill; within twenty seconds of that moment the fight was over.
An argument could be made that referee Michael Griffin stopped this bout too soon, but it was very clear that Noe Gonzalez was hurt and it seemed very unlikely that Gonzalez could have made it through the 1:03 remaining on the clock, never mind an additional ten rounds after that. Sure, it was a quick stoppage, but it ultimately prevented a fighter from getting hurt any worse than he’d already been hurt.
As a curiosity, this fight was for (according to Boxrec), the WBC Silver, IBF Inter-Continental, WBO NABO, and NABA super middleweight titles. That’s right—it was a trinket unification superfight! In theory, Adonis Stevenson is now the mandatory challenger for Andre Ward, Robert Stieglitz, and Lucian Bute. Those three guys would need to get together like Voltron in order to avoid vacating their belts if the sanctioning bodies’ rules were taken literally. Normally we here at the Boxing Tribune ignore such petty distinctions around fighters’ waists, but good comedy should not go unlaughed at.
The co-feature was reminiscent of Nonito Donaire against Omar Narvaez. Rayco Saunders is well-known in boxing circles as being a guy who can give an up-and-coming fighter work without posing a meaningful threat, and that description made for an apt narrative for the fight itself. For all his vaunted power, Eleider “Storm” Alvarez never got enough good openings to put a knockout punch on point even if he’d brought dynamite in his fists, which made for eight rounds of low action probing and the kind of non-TV-friendly boxing that has plagued ESPN2 all year long.
The judges, Teddy Atlas, your columnist, the judges in the Rios-Abril fight, and the dumbest kid in the special ed school all had it the same way, 80-72 for Alvarez. This was cure for insomnia stuff.
And finally, the six-round swing bout was a lovely object lesson in how local house fighters are protected at all times by a willing confluence of promoter graft, judge self-preservation, and good old-fashioned ineptitude. Leonus Marie-Francoise (8-6-1, 2 KOs), who has a name like a French nobleman’s mistress and a punch like…a French nobleman’s mistress, beat Baha Laham (8-0-1, 3 KOs) absolutely silly for six rounds, getting off faster, splitting the guard with uppercuts, and generally looking the much better fighter throughout. Teddy Atlas plus The Boxing Tribune had this fight 59-55 for Marie-Francoise and those scores reflect just how one-sided the fight was.
Which, of course, explains perfectly why all three judges at ringside had it 57-57. How do you give a nod to a guy that beat the snot out of an undefeated fighter without offending that unbeaten guy’s promoter who paid your meal ticket? You keep their fighter undefeated…8-0-1 is not 8-1. Congratulations, Baha Laham. You embarrassed yourself on television and still get to act like you’re the hottest thing to come out of Quebec since poutine. Those who watched this fight will remember it well when you step up in class and get your fool head knocked off.
Next week, ESPN2 is in Austin, Texas, where light heavyweight rising star Ismayl Sillakh (17-0, 14 KOs) takes on one-time Muay Thai kickboxing champion Denis Grachev (11-0-1, 7 KOs) in a delightful main event matchup, while the co-feature pairs another couple of “someone’s O must go” prospects, this time at junior lightweight, as Javier Fortuna (18-0, 13 KOs) takes on Yaundale Evans (16-0, 12 KOs). It should be great fun. Friday Night Fights airs Friday, April 27th, at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s televised action, including reports on any swing fights that make air. 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 annoyed Albertans taking issue with Quebecois poutine can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for exclusives and other bonus material from Boxing’s Independent Media. You can also keep track of all the latest in boxing news and views by downloading our safe & free toolbar: