Stevenson’s Unimaginative Offense Will Be Telling Vs. Kovalev

We saw him box for 12 consecutive rounds against an opponent whose best weapons were his willingness to engage along with his awkwardness.

We saw him land his Sunday left cross flush on the chin of an opponent who was standing right in front of him, and it produced one legitimate knockdown. I’m talking about WBC/Lineal light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson’s 12 round unanimous decision win over challenger Sakio Bika 32-7-3 (21) this past Saturday afternoon on CBS.

Stevenson 26-1 (21) dominated the fight against the off balance and sporadically wild swinging Bika. Adonis pretty much did whatever he wanted throughout the course of the bout. Bika was usually out of position and his slapping and cuffing punches that sometimes did land on Stevenson, had little effect. Bika came forward for practically the entire fight, but it was the wrong kind of pressure and it didn’t force the southpaw Stevenson to rush anything that he wanted to do. His forward motion actually provided Stevenson a clear target, but left Sakio a second too late to counter back. I’ll give Bika credit for keeping the fight interesting because he’s very tough and fearless, however, he is very limited both offensively and defensively and therefore Stevenson was never really under much duress during the fight.

After watching Stevenson fight and box for 36 uninterrupted minutes, four things stood out.

1) Until he’s confident that the other guy doesn’t have a lot of pop, he fights scared. That seemed the case to me for the first two or three rounds.

2) He’s very left hand reliant.

3) He has no right hook or uppercut to speak of behind his right jab.

4) He is not a very good judge of distance.

And if he fights WBA/WBO/IBF title holder Sergey Kovalev 27-0-1 (24) to settle the debate as to who the best light heavyweight in the world is, one, two and three will be very detrimental for him if he is forced to go rounds against Kovalev.

As for number four, Stevenson’s lack of judging distance won’t be that big of a deal because Sergey will be pushing the fight and stepping to him. And it’s much easier to hit an opponent without gauging distance if he’s constantly bringing the fight to you, so the poor distance won’t be much of factor.

The problem Stevenson will have to overcome against Kovalev is his sheer reliance on his left cross, which is his finishing punch. Adonis doesn’t do much to set it up either, other than shoot his right jab, mostly to the head and sometimes to the body. The threat of the left cross alone will not be enough to keep Kovalev from putting pressure on him while he’s looking to get in with his own hard lefts, rights and uppercuts to the head and body. For Stevenson to have his best chance to make his left hand the dominant punch in the fight, he must keep some distance between he and Kovalev. Also, Stevenson’s lack of any kind of a noteworthy right hook behind his jab reduces what Kovalev has to worry about from mid-range. Adonis needs distance to get off good with his left hand. And if he’s cornered or has his back against the ring ropes, his lack of an inside game will enable Sergey to take his liberties and win the exchanges.

Basically, Stevenson has to rely solely on one weapon to outscore and beat Kovalev up, and I can’t envision that unfolding or playing itself out over the course of 12 rounds. Kovalev is smart and can fight inside and outside in addition to that, he’s a little quicker handed with his combinations than he looks. Stevenson is strong, but the only weapon in is arsenal that Kovalev has to address is his left cross. And if Kovalev forces the fight and backs Stevenson up the way I think he will, Adonis will have to rush throwing his left hand. By Stevenson being forced to rush his punches, some of the steam will be taken out of them and other than getting caught with one he doesn’t see or anticipate, Kovalev will be advancing the fight without much resistance.

It would’ve been a great promotional injection regarding the urgency for a Kovalev-Stevenson showdown if Adonis, who slightly underperformed, looked as good as Sergey did in his last fight when he stopped Jean Pascal. And it was odd that after the fight Stevenson wasn’t asked about his thoughts on fighting Kovalev next…..

The perception of Stevenson the knockout artist added more intrigue as to the outcome and danger that Stevenson presented Kovalev. But after watching him hit Bika almost at will and really never having him in trouble or on the verge of being stopped, it took some of the bloom off of the rose. As the fight with Bika progressed it became more apparent just how one dimensional Stevenson really is.

Kovalev is clearly the more skilled and versatile fighter, but Stevenson’s left hand power is a legitimate threat for as long as the fight lasts, and it’s not like Kovalev will be hard to find. Both have showed they can go the distance without much trouble if they have to. But Kovalev has more weapons at his disposal and will most likely be the stronger presence once the fight begins as they try to impose themselves physically on each other. And lastly, Stevenson should not fight with trepidation at the onset if and when he faces Kovalev, because Krusher will sense that and feed off of it and try his best to make Stevenson doubt himself even more as the fight progresses.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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COMMENTS

-deepwater2 :

Nice write up. Stevenson was supposed to use his set up fights to work on his arsenal. Instead he looked lack luster against mediocre opponents. Kovalev on the other hand, went to school against Hopkins and Pascal. He will grow from his fights. Stevenson is at a standstill at best and realistically is a step or two backwards, at at age 38 he won't learn any new tricks. WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get. Its one thing to take on lesser competition for decent money and minimal risks, but those are the fights you must work on your craft and step on the gas. We will see if Stevenson's adviser orders him to dump the belt since he will get the PBC belt and get out of taking on Krusher, instead fighting the winner of JCJ/Fonfara.


-The Commish :

Stevenson is totally one-dimensional and predictable. He has waited too long in jumping into a fight against Sergie Kovalev, and with every outing, his weaknesses are more and more exposed. Kovalev will not have much problem against him. In fact, I'd even pick Artur "Abie" Beterbiev to beat him. Let me throw B-Hop onto that list as well. B-Hop may well shut Stevenson out. -Randy G.


-oubobcat :

Stevenson is totally one-dimensional and predictable. He has waited too long in jumping into a fight against Sergie Kovalev, and with every outing, his weaknesses are more and more exposed. Kovalev will not have much problem against him. In fact, I'd even pick Artur "Abie" Beterbiev to beat him. Let me throw B-Hop onto that list as well. B-Hop may well shut Stevenson out. -Randy G.
Agreed, too one-dimensional a fighter. Dawson was there for the taking when Stevenson won the title and he has been matched very well (and carefully) since that one punch knockout win. Kovalev, Hopkins, Pascal and Beterbiev all handle Stevenson with ease. Bute would make for a competitive fight.


-stormcentre :

When faced with a very tough but possibly still "mediocre" opponent Stevenson's lack of creativity and options was quite telling. Bika has, previously, with a loss, impacted a few top level fighters games such that they are not quite themselves; as he's usually just a little tougher than his perceivably gatekeeper status might suggest. Perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on Stevenson. After all Ward and Calzaghe, at times, found Bika as an opponent less than easy/comfortable. I doubt even Kovalev would KO him. Beat him yes. Still, none of this means that Kovalev will or won't bash Stevenson. My money is on the former.


-the Roast :

Bika is a very hard man. He is not a light heavy. He did his best to hang in there with Stevenson but he never had a chance. If Kovalev fought Bika he would beat him so bad there would be a public outcry to ban boxing. Adonis should continue to avoid the Krusher. Take a fight with B-Hop. The worst that can happen with B-Hop would be a twelve round shutout. If Stevenson gets in with Kovalev he gets pounded.


-stormcentre :

Bika is one of the toughest fighters I know, have seen, and met. Period. The guy redefines the term "durable" in boxing, and was hurting professional guys as an amateur in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. I reckon - provided Bika was motivated (big question mark) and in top form - Kovalev would have a hard time stopping him; although I concede Sergey may beat on him. I have just heard and seen a few things in gyms over here, from Sakio, such that; A) I will never count the guy out if he's ready. B) I will rarely agree that anyone (within his weight division) will stop him. They don't come tougher. Example 1: In Danny Green's day he was a devastating puncher; even though technically limited and over managed. We were all at a gym one day in Sydney and there was Greeny, some other middle and light heavyweight guys, me, and a few other USA imports for sparring (Green's world title prep) there too. Bika arrived and after 30 minutes the overall round robin sparring got out of hand, badly; taking a dive and disintegrating into a slug fest and test of stamina and punch resistance. Some people (trainers and women) walked out, as things really started to nosedive and in no way resemble normal training. Blood and blood noses were aplenty. Bika was the only guy that didn't have enough. Big deal some may say. But, Bika didn't even have a fight on the horizon. Gulp.


-stormcentre :

Bika is one of the toughest fighters I know, have seen, and met. Period. The guy redefines the term "durable" in boxing, and was hurting professional guys as an amateur in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. I reckon - provided Bika was motivated (big question mark) and in top form - Kovalev would have a hard time stopping him; although I concede Sergey may beat on him. I have just heard and seen a few things in gyms over here, from Sakio, such that; A) I will never count the guy out if he's ready. B) I will rarely agree that anyone (within his weight division) will stop him. They don't come tougher.
Example 1: In Danny Green's day he was a devastating puncher and quite tough (check sparring videos on YT of him with Toney at Roaches’ gym), particularly in a gym he was comfortable with; even though technically he was probably also limited at championship level, and also way over managed. We were all at a gym one day in Sydney and there was Greeny, some other middle and light heavyweight guys, me, and a few other USA imports for sparring (Green's world title prep) there too. Bika arrived and after 30 minutes the overall round robin sparring got out of hand, badly; taking a dive and disintegrating into a slug fest and test of stamina and punch resistance. Some people (trainers and women) walked out, as things really started to nosedive and in no way resemble normal training. Blood and blood noses were aplenty. Bika was the only guy that, at the end of it all, didn't have enough. He was also the only guy that really didn't - in boxing continuity (and not necessarily aesthetic) terms - show in significant signs of being hurt, and more importantly, bothered. Big deal some may say. Thing is, Bika didn't even have a fight on the horizon. He was just passing by; literally. He walked in, in jeans, and once he realised what was going down he changed plans and borrowed shorts for the session. Gulp. I have never sold Bika short since.


-stormcentre :

Bika is one of the toughest fighters I know, have seen, and met. Period. The guy redefines the term "durable" in boxing, and was hurting professional guys as an amateur in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. I reckon - provided Bika was motivated (big question mark) and in top form - Kovalev would have a hard time stopping him; although I concede Sergey may beat on him. I have just heard and seen a few things in gyms over here, from Sakio, such that; A) I will never count the guy out if he's ready. B) I will rarely agree that anyone (within his weight division) will stop him. They don't come tougher.
Example 1: In Danny Green's day he was a devastating puncher and quite tough (check sparring videos on YT of him with Toney at Roaches’ gym), particularly in a gym he was comfortable with; even though technically he was probably also limited at championship level, and also way over managed. We were all at a gym one day in Sydney and there was Greeny, some other middle and light heavyweight guys, me, and a few other USA imports for sparring (Green's world title prep) there too. Bika arrived and after 30 minutes the overall round robin sparring got out of hand, badly; taking a dive and disintegrating into a slug fest and test of stamina and punch resistance. Some people (trainers and women) walked out, as things really started to nosedive and in no way resemble normal training. Blood and blood noses were aplenty. Bika was the only guy that, at the end of it all, didn't have enough. He was also the only guy that really didn't - in boxing continuity (but not necessarily aesthetic) terms - show any significant signs of being hurt, and more importantly, bothered by the ordeal. The intensity, intent of the punches, spilt blood, facial cuts, bruises, and just the overall violent and never say die (even though it was totally unnecessary) atmosphere of the sparring would have easily raised eyebrows in any gym, and in any country, that I have been to. Big deal some may say. Thing is, Bika didn't even have a fight on the horizon. He was just passing by; literally. He walked in, in jeans, and once he realised what was going down he changed plans and borrowed shorts for the session. Gulp. I have never sold Bika short since.


-Domenic :

Bika is one of the toughest fighters I know, have seen, and met. Period. The guy redefines the term "durable" in boxing, and was hurting professional guys as an amateur in preparation for the Sydney Olympics. I reckon - provided Bika was motivated (big question mark) and in top form - Kovalev would have a hard time stopping him; although I concede Sergey may beat on him. I have just heard and seen a few things in gyms over here, from Sakio, such that; A) I will never count the guy out if he's ready. B) I will rarely agree that anyone (within his weight division) will stop him. They don't come tougher.
Example 1: In Danny Green's day he was a devastating puncher and quite tough (check sparring videos on YT of him with Toney at Roaches’ gym), particularly in a gym he was comfortable with; even though technically he was probably also limited at championship level, and also way over managed. We were all at a gym one day in Sydney and there was Greeny, some other middle and light heavyweight guys, me, and a few other USA imports for sparring (Green's world title prep) there too. Bika arrived and after 30 minutes the overall round robin sparring got out of hand, badly; taking a dive and disintegrating into a slug fest and test of stamina and punch resistance. Some people (trainers and women) walked out, as things really started to nosedive and in no way resemble normal training. Blood and blood noses were aplenty. Bika was the only guy that, at the end of it all, didn't have enough. He was also the only guy that really didn't - in boxing continuity (but not necessarily aesthetic) terms - show any significant signs of being hurt, and more importantly, bothered by the ordeal. The intensity, intent of the punches, spilt blood, facial cuts, bruises, and just the overall violent and never say die (even though it was totally unnecessary) atmosphere of the sparring would have easily raised eyebrows in any gym, and in any country, that I have been to. Big deal some may say. Thing is, Bika didn't even have a fight on the horizon. He was just passing by; literally. He walked in, in jeans, and once he realised what was going down he changed plans and borrowed shorts for the session. Gulp. I have never sold Bika short since.
Great, great post. I'm skeptical we'll see Kovalev - Stevenson. Since dodging him, Kovalev's stock has soared and he's been rocketing up P4P lists, while Stevenson's been moving in the opposite direction. I'd think Stevenson would seek a Hopkins fight. The public's memory is so short that Hopkins can be sold as the BH of old, there's no risk of being damaged as Hopkins' punch output will be nil, and if Stevenson gets outboxed, hey, he was outboxed by a legend. This one could be packaged and sold quite easily.


-brownsugar :

Great, great post. I'm skeptical we'll see Kovalev - Stevenson. Since dodging him, Kovalev's stock has soared and he's been rocketing up P4P lists, while Stevenson's been moving in the opposite direction. I'd think Stevenson would seek a Hopkins fight. The public's memory is so short that Hopkins can be sold as the BH of old, there's no risk of being damaged as Hopkins' punch output will be nil, and if Stevenson gets outboxed, hey, he was outboxed by a legend. This one could be packaged and sold quite easily.
I agree great story.... I could imagine Bika walking into a gym and casually asking..." hey can I work-in with you guys" and a full scale brawl breaks out. Yes Domenic.......the public does have a short memory .... I dont know how many times I've puchased the same dvd sold in a different cover.