The first of the weekend’s marquee mismatch showdowns featured Adonis Stevenson against Tommy Karpency in PBC’s first show in Canada’s largest city.
And a mismatch it was: Stevenson destroyed Karpency in the opening seconds of the third round with a thundering straight left.
Billed deliberately as the “KO in TO,” boxing’s return to Toronto was never expected to be a real challenge to Stevenson’s ensconced position as the world’s number two light heavyweight and WBC champ, but a showcase of the Montreal hitter’s feared power.
And the man known as Superman did not let his fellow Canadians down, making a short night for the man from Udah, Pennsylvania.
Tommy “Kryptonite” Karpency—the psychiatric nurse who was ushered into the ring by seconds wearing jeans, boots, and T-shirts as if they came to the fight in the middle of interrupted farm work— tried to fight his fight but had obviously never felt the power of a puncher of Stevenson’s ilk.
Karpency acquitted himself well the few times he fought ranked opponents (loss to Andrzej Fonfara 2012, win over Chad Dawson, 2014) but the 37-year-old Hatian-born Superman was too much for him to handle.
In the 1st, Karpency showed the champ little respect, coming in with two separate combination attacks and eating some of Stevenson’s counters in what was largely a feeling out round.
Karpency controlled the fight into the 2nd, landing the best punch of the fight up to that point: a looping right hook that landed flush on Stevenson’s cheek. But Adonis changed the fight with ten seconds to go in the round with counter left to the chin that sent Karpency stuttering backwards into the ropes.
The Udah man recovered in time to bear the bell. But when the 3rd round started, Superman flew to Karpency’s corner and launched a combination that ended again, with a straight left to Tommy’s chin that he had no hope of sustaining.
Stevenson improved to 27-1-0 with 22 KOs.
In the co-main event between was showdown of southpaw welterweight prospects between clear A-side Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. and B-side Chris Van Heerden.
Spence took another step towards an eventual title shot by defeating Van Heerden in an 8-round TKO. The 25-year-old IBF 8thranked welterweight extended his KO streak to five with a rather beautiful exhibition of defense, footwork, and body power.
PBC and Al Haymon, forecasting the loss of Floyd Mayweather’s starpower, are clearing the decks for a guy like Spence to take the reins, and USA Boxing’s best-in-show from the 2012 Olympics showed he may be just the guy. The Dallas fighter improved to 18-0-0, with 15 KOs.
Van Heerden, a former Miguel Cotto sparring partner originally from South Africa, entered the fight on a nine bout winning streak but saw it come to an end at the hands of The Truth, falling to 23-2-1.
In the 1st round, the taller Van Heerden tried his range with the jab as Spence tried to time counter left hands over them. Not many decisive punches landed, but Spence was cleaner.
The 2nd saw Van Heerden score early to the head and body of Spence, before Spence took over the round with powerful lefts that Van Heerden attempted to shrug off, shaking his head harder “no” with each heavy punch from Spence he swallowed.
Spence took control in the 3rd, managing the pace of the fight and backing the South African into the ropes, landing to the head and body almost at will. The cool-as-a-cucumber Texan even managed a slight nod to Antonio Tarver, serving ringside with the Spike TV crew. Van Heerden stopped trying to discourage Spence from shaking his head.
In the 4th, referee Allan Huggins took a point from Van Heerden for spitting his mouthpiece for a second time, perhaps out of frustration as the smaller boxer Spence continued to control the fight’s range. Spence kept his workman’s pace into the fourth, out-throwing and out-landing his opponent.
Well if the range isn’t working, flip the script. Van Heerden spent the 5th luring Spence into an inside game to see if he could get off on shorter punches. If you had to give a round to the challenger, this might have been it, as Van Heerden did some nice work and defended better in close range.
The 6th saw Spence getting back to his game, controlling the space with his feet and staying away from the ropes. Van Heerden went back to his game, of shaking his head and squirming his hips defiantly after getting punched.
Spence scored some beautiful body shots to start the 7th, that seemed to slow Van Heerden down. VH also began to deal with a swelling left eye. Spence built on the body work and sent VH to the canvas twice, the first one a body-head right-left combo and the second on a left uppercut to the South African’s gut. Van Heerden wanted to get out of the round so bad, he mistook the 10-second warning for the bell and turned his head.
One minute rest was not enough. Van Heerden couldn’t recover from the body work, allowing Spence to swarm him and forcing Allan Huggins to call the fight in the 8th round, giving Spence his fifth straight KO.
In the postfight interview, Spence said he’s ready to fight anyone in the top 10 of the division.
Even with the humble Pennsylvanian serving as opponent fodder, Friday night’s fight in Ricoh Coliseum was arguably the biggest boxing event in thirty years when Toronto-native Nicky Furlano dropped a decision to Aaron Pryor at Varsity Stadium.
In other news from Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum:
The long and lean super welter blue chipper Prichard Colon made quick work of journeyman Vivian Harris in four rounds. Sporting the logo of the hometown first-place Blue Jays on his trunks Colon wore Harris down with a sharp jab, and Harris kept him off him with sharp left hooks as Colon tried to come in, but in the fourth Colon finally broke through and floored Harris, who stayed down for the count.
Toronto’s Sandy Tsagouris (12-2, 6 KOs) warmed up the home crowd with a rousing preliminary against Australia’s Shannon O’Connell 11-3-0 (6 KOs). Tsagouris stung O’Connell in first with a big right hand, dropping her to the canvas on her way to owning the action in the following rounds. In the fourth, O’Connell returned the favor with a right on chin from which Tsagouris only barely recovered, still wobbling at the 9-count. The Toronto fighter was allowed to the continue, finished the round and got back to bullying the Australian around to win a wide decision.
And 51-year-old Razor Ruddock exhibited a rather embarassing 3rd round KO loss to Dillon Carman for the so-called Canada Heavyweight title.
There’s only one Bernard Hopkins.