By Dave Spencer at ringside
Photos: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime
WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs) won an exciting, knockdown-filled twelve round unanimous decision over WBO #1, WBC #3 Andrzej “The Polish Prince” Fonfara (25-3, 15 KOs) on Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. Fonfara came out aggressively but was dropped by a Stevenson left hand in round one. Stevenson pummeled Fonfara for the balance of the round. The “Polish Prince” got back into the fight over the next three rounds, but Stevenson put him down again in round five with a body shot. Fonfara started turning the tide in rounds seven and eight, then floored the champion with a right hand in round nine. Stevenson rediscovered the body attack to take round ten. Good two-way action the rest of the way.
Scores were 115-110, 115-110, 116-109.
It was the third defense by Stevenson who captured WBC last June with a first round knockout of Chad Dawson.
For Stevenson who hasn’t heard a scorecard read since 2007, it appeared as if he was once again headed for another early night, dominating the early proceedings and punishing his opponent. A first round knockdown was followed up with another in the fifth thanks to a massive body shot. Fonfara again got up and it was clear he was not going anywhere. Stevenson who had his hand wrapped in ice afterwards said he injured it in the second round but was not shy in using it.
“It was early in the fight we knew we were in it for the long haul,” said Stevenson’s trainer Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill. “He wasn’t going away, he’s been in Kronk before and he’s not new to me. I know how tough he is.”
If nothing else, Fonfara was indeed tough. The Polish born fighter rebounded nicely where other Stevenson opponents have not in the past. Despite being on the canvas in the opening round from a sledgehammer left hand, Fonfara made strides in the second and by the third was landing clean shots of his own. Stevenson laughed them off, smiling at his opponent, but by the ninth, the visitor had all but wiped the smile of the champion’s face.
“Stevenson was better today, he’s a great champion. But I want to get better. I was a little bit discouraged at the beginning. I proved though he was not Superman, he went down.”
After producing his best round of the fight to that point in the eighth and raising his hand to the crowd as he came back to his corner, Fonfara caught the champion with a right hand coming out of a clinch putting him down to the canvas and suddenly what was largely a one-sided affair had 6,342 in attendance on the edge of their seats with the championship rounds still to come.
“We told him hands up and move forward,” said Hill. “He was getting caught with punches pulling out, so the simple fix was to move forward. He worked his way through that round like a true professional and a true champion. He was very intelligent after the knockdown.”
Surviving the knockdown, Stevenson rebounded from a fight that was slipping away with a solid if not dominant tenth. The Haitian born fighter punished the body of his revitalized challenger including one cannonading drive into the solar plexus.
“I dealt with it and still came back strong,” said the champion. “Every fight I learn so this was an experience and I learned a lot and the next fight will be different.”
A wild final brought fans to their feet, cheering on as both fighters took turns, putting everything into their combinations, both trying to score the dramatic KO.
“A lot of people didn’t think I couldn’t go twelve but I did, ” said Stevenson. “Fonfara is a good fighter, this guy has a high ranking and he’s a good boxer. He was ready to fight this bout.”
Stevenson’s trainer Hill added, “Both fighters made mistakes and both fighters got caught, those were two tough fighters and you can’t take anything away from them.”
* * *
IBF #7, WBO #12, WBC #13 middleweight KO artist David Lemieux (32-2, 30 KOs) destroyed former world title challenger Fernando Guerrero (26-3, 19 KOs). Lemieux dropped Guerrero in rounds one and two. Guerrero also sustained a bad cut over his right eye in round two. In round three Guerrero took a knee then was dropped again and the fight was over. A spectacular right uppercut ended things definitely for the Montreal fighter who powered through his opponent who tried some slick early movement in the fight but had no answer for the fast charging locomotive that was more and more powerful as the fight progressed. Somehow Guerrero got himself a time-out as he took a knee and requested the ring doctor look at his eye that was busted up in the second round. The respite was a short one and he should have stayed down as only moments later Lemieux managed to punctuate an impressive performance with the third and final knockdown.
* * *
Undefeated junior-middleweight Jermell Charlo (24-0 11KO) survived a third round knockdown and a point deduction to go on to a convincing 115-111, 118-109, 118-109 unanimous decision over Charlie Bellamy Ohta (24-2-1 16KO) in IBF elimination fight for the #2 spot in the division. The Texas fighter was caught off-balance by a right hand as he was back pedalling to start the third and was forced to take an eight count but came back strongly to finish the round. The top five 154-pounder by WBC/WBAIBF used his marked height and reach advantage to neutralize Ohta who never did get inside effectively. Any attempt at an offensive front by Ohta was quickly met by crunching counters from Charlo as they were to end the sixth round where a good flurry by the New Yorker by way of Japan was ended with a left hook by Charlo that brought oohs from the Bell Centre crowd. A point deduction for an errant low blow in the ninth was charged Charlo but wasn’t nearly enough to have an effect on the final outcome.