As they often say in a dispute– there’s one side, the other side, and, somewhere in the middle, the truth.
In the case of Adonis Stevenson’s first round blow-out of Chad Dawson Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, nobody is denying the outcome. Nobody is denying the thudding overhand left that dropped Dawson or the subsequent, dopey “who ate my Cheerios” look on “Bad” Chad’s face after finding himself looking up at the ring lights.
What can be debated, though, is what this all means and how this 76 second stretch of activity defines both fighters. Also worth exploring is how the media, generally entrusted to be the voice of reason in most other sports, has been all over the place in trying to set a narrative that has more to do with their own egos than anything either fighter has or has not done..
Re: Adonis Stevenson
At the very least, the KO of Dawson will likely move Stevenson into that upper tier of high-end immigrant French-Canadian stardom alongside fellow light heavyweights Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute. And with his heavy hands and tenacious style, Stevenson could very well knock the other two off the list should they ever dare to acknowledge his existence.
Of course, with the win, the Haitian-born Stevenson becomes the WBC light heavyweight titlist and, somehow, according to Ring Magazine, lineal light heavyweight champ– despite a muddled title lineage, through Dawson, that only goes back to 2010 (People, there are no more true lineal champions. Deal with it). The belt ties him to a bout with the UK’s Tony Bellew next and then a relatively weak roster of WBC title challengers.
There is nothing in his style or demeanor to suggest that he can’t be a superstar in the sport if handled properly. Fans and media generally wet themselves over one-punch power and his back story as a former pimp and last disciple of the great Emanuel Steward makes him a compelling feature-ready character.
The problem will be whether Stevenson and his people will be content to stay up in their little corner of the world fending off a series of hopeless contenders while putting easy money in the bank or if they truly have world domination in mind.
Over the last few years, the light heavyweight division has been defined by a general inability to make the best fight the best. With the exception of Dawson, Pascal, and Bernard Hopkins, the 175 lb. top 10 has been all talk and no action. Stevenson can change that or he can be part of it.
And even if Stevenson is intent on being an actual world champion, it’s unlikely that his peers will be eager to hop on a plane and test his mettle. Make no mistake about it, Stevenson is vulnerable in a lot of ways. Just don’t expect Nathan Cleverly to ditch his steady diet of WBO title defenses against Foot Locker assistant managers and don’t expect Beibut Shumenov to bother himself with a ring appearance any time soon. Hell, don’t even count on Pascal and Bute to be too eager about facing him when easier bouts with good paydays are still within reach for both.
So, despite the promise with which his title reign begins, Stevenson may soon find himself stifled by the nature of the beast at 175. Most everyone worth fighting already has a belt and/or a hometown niche of their own and facing a human jackhammer is not good business.
Re: Chad Dawson
If we’re being honest with ourselves, Dawson could legitimately be regarded as the top light heavyweight of the new millennium so far. Regardless of what you think of his style or ring temperament, Dawson’s wins over Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, and Antonio Tarver should earn him a spot no lower than top 3 on even the most vicious of critic’s list.
Credit has been slow in coming to Dawson, who accomplished a lot and always fought with steady, calm precision even while his outside-the-ring life was anything but ideal.
Unfortunately for Dawson, he became caught up in the latest media fad that insists you mock and devalue fighters who box rather than fly face-first into punches. Rather than blame the pug who can’t hang with the stylist, the trend is to blame the stylist for doing his thing too well. Because of this embracing of mediocrity in the ring, much of Dawson’s legacy will be disregarded by way too many.
Realistically, the end is here for Dawson, who has now suffered through two consecutive thrashings and looks to be a very fragile 30-year-old. There’s no doubt that he’s still good enough to hang around the fringes of title contention and, who knows, he may get a couple of calls from champs and contenders who see the possibility of an easy mark with a big name. But it’s going to take a lot to rebuild “Bad” Chad. And if we’ve learned anything about the man who has changed his trainers more than his gym shoes, it’s that he has shown an utter inability to embrace the kind of introspection needed to rebuild a badly damaged career trajectory.
Re: The Boxing Media
Now, ideally, the media should be “the truth” in all of this, putting things into their proper perspective and tying up any loose ends. The boxing media rarely does that, though. They are too busy pushing their own agendas or jerry-rigging fantasy league rankings.
Dawson was one of those fighters that most in the media loved to root against and some took that to the extreme, only relenting slightly to justify his loss to the even more despised Andre Ward.
Who knows where these agendas spring up? Likely, they come from some negative personal interaction with the fighter or the fighter’s management that sticks in the writer’s gizzard. Then the sycophants and underlings of these writers jump in. The end result is a fighter whose entire legacy has been diminished and whose reputation has been destroyed, all for something as possibly innocuous as a poke in the chest or an errant Tweet.
Meanwhile, the hobbyist bloggers, just happy to be at ringside and away from their screaming kids, are Tweeting pics from press row and giving social media reach-arounds to fellow members of whichever fraternal order of super blogging friends they belong to. Boxing’s alternative press, which is really what the bloggers are supposed to be, seems unconcerned with anything other than the fact that they have a “cool” hobby. With time, they grow increasingly less interested in trying to be the yin to the mainstream media’s yang and, almost without exception, become just as petty and as vindictive as the “big” guys.
Any way you cut it, though, Chad Dawson never got the credit he deserved. The main purpose of those in the boxing media is to cover the actual sport– something too many only do through a thick filter of agendas, conflicts of interest, and general dullness.
Can you imagine a baseball reporter actively working to diminish Hall of Fame pitcher, Steve Carlton’s legacy because he was “too boring?”
Here’s hoping Adonis Stevenson doesn’t decide to add some boxing ability to his all-action style.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch as novelty Twitter accounts continue to spring up out of nowhere to attack him. Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.
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