by Tim Harrison
This Saturday, April 4 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, Adonis Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) will take on Sakio Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs) in a light heavyweight title fight scheduled for twelve rounds. Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title will be on the line, and for some, so will the lineal light heavyweight and RING Magazine titles. The fight will be shown live on CBS at the odd time of 3 PM ET/ 12 PM PT, as part of the Premier Boxing Champions CBS debut.
Stevenson will be making the fifth defense of the title he so violently snatched from Chad Dawson in 2013. So far, his title reign has been less than stellar and marred by aborted fight negotiations, a network switch, and the constant hackneyed scrutiny that comes along with being a client of Al Haymon. In addition to his sordid past in Haiti, Stevenson is criticized for his perceived unwillingness to face WBO, WBA, and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. The two were in negotiations and reportedly nearing a deal before Al Haymon backed up the Brinks truck and lured Stevenson over to Showtime. Stevenson is looking to be the first to stop Bika, the former WBC super middleweight titlist, but doing so won’t do much to boost his public standing. Stevenson is coming off a fifth round stoppage win over Dmitry Sukhotsky last December.
Sakio Bika has been around the block a few times in his career. Bika started his career successfully on the Australian circuit, mixing in losses to Sam Soliman, Joe Clazaghe, and Lucian Bute along the way before winning the second season of “The Contender”. Bika has had many fortunate chances throughout his career. He was tabbed to join Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament after the untimely exits of Andre Dirrell and Mikkel Kessler, but lost to Andre Ward in his only appearance. Bika went on to win the vacant WBC title in a foul-filled scrap with Marco Antonio Periban in June of 2013, and after fighting to a split draw against Anthony Dirrell six months later, Bika would lose to Dirrell outright in their immediate rematch.
Stevenson possesses the edge in speed, power, and skill. Bika is a volume puncher who likes to brawl, sometimes not entirely within the legal rules of the sport. Stevenson is known for his powerful left hand, and it should be an effective weapon against a fighter who has shown a big vulnerability to southpaws (Calzaghe, Bute).
Stevenson has the edge in reach, and should look to use his jab to slow Bika’s charges from outside. If Stevenson can get his jab going early, his left hand won’t be too far behind it. Bika’s best bet would be to work angles to get inside and make things rough and uncomfortable for Stevenson. Unfortunately, Bika doesn’t possess the skill or athletic ability to do much more than he’s always done, which is rush in at basic angles and let his hands go. In the unlikely event Stevenson is unable to slow Bika’s inside advances, he should avoid getting drawn into an ugly brawl.
Sakio Bika spent his entire career campaigning in the 168-pound division, and his style does not lend itself to longevity. To see Bika still able to take heavy shots at 36 years of age is a testament to his natural toughness and grit. But he’s going up in weight against a natural puncher who hits harder than anyone he’s ever faced. Adonis Stevenson wants to be the first person to stop Sakio Bika, and he just might. The more likely outcome will be a decision win for Stevenson, who despite his many flaws, is still a class or two above Bika.