Much of the attention garnered by the at-times sensational at-times one-dimensional Haitian-Canadian Superman of the ring, Adonis Stevenson, centers on his availability to fight the putative king of the 175 division in Sergey Kovalev. Will he, or won’t he? You can tear all the petals you want off of a fleur-de-lis and you’ll have as of a good as a guess as the rest of us.
In the meantime, PBC is trying to extend the Montreal man’s marketability down the 401 into Canada’s economic “centre” of Toronto and onto the North American sports fan’s radar in general on SPIKE. Athletic boxers who can fill a screen with their punching power don’t exactly grow on trees, which is one reason why Haymon & Co. continue to nurse the 37-year-old Stevenson along with subpar competition in stay-busy, exposure type of fights.
Tommy “Kryptonite” Karpency would love to expose Superman.
Karpency is a textbook scrapper and a compelling character: a psychiatric nurse hailing from the dead, Appalachain coal-mine town of Adah, Pennsylvania, population 150. He’s a down-but-never-out guy, with energy to burn. His only loss by stoppage was a 2012 scrap against Andrzej Fonfara in which Karpency was ahead on two judges’ scorecards even after Fonfara scored a 10-7 first round.
Going back to the amateur tape, which gleefully recalls a smoke-filled hall of boxing’s mid-century history but with better video tech, we see Karpency start almost every round with a flurry, deftly trading the heavy favorite Fonfara’s jabs with right hooks from Karpency’s southpaw stance and generally roughing the Pole up. In the decisive 7th round, Karpency backs Fonfara into the corner and stings him with an overhand left, keeping the hurt Fonfara on the run, as Fonfara tries to tie the increasingly arm-tired Karpency up. He succeeds, and wrestles the Pennsylvanian awkwardly to the canvas, hurting his right arm in the fall. When Karpency gains his feet again he tells the ref he can’t feel his arm, and the ref waives it off.
The injured arm curse reversed itself in Karpency’s only other fight against top competition, last year against Chad Dawson, Dawson of course famous for beating Bernard Hopkins and then getting knocked out in the first round by Adonis Stevenson (a knockout so sudden and dramatic it deserves tangential mention whenever a boxing writer can manage it). Dawson hurt his shoulder in the 3rd round against Karpency and fought the rest of the fight basically one-handed to drop a narrow split-decision to the Appalachian fighter.
Karpency, a 10-1 underdog in last year’s fight, has Dawson’s bum shoulder to thank for his payday against Stevenson, for which, according to at least one website, a bettor must wager $10,000 to win $20. Just like Adah, Pennsylvania, on paper, this fight barely exists. Neither Stevenson nor Karpency deserve odds so far out of whack.
The argument that Karpency could surprise Stevenson runs parallel to the argument that Kovalev really stands alone in the Light Heavyweight division, and both deserve a little light. Karpency has proven himself at least agile on his feet, well-conditioned, and thick-bearded. On the minus side, well, let’s not even go there, Karpency’s fight game is as riddled with holes as the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. But there’s reason to believe that Karpency is smart and well-experienced enough to avoid Superman’s crushing straight lefts and at least put Stevenson to work on his body.
Karpency certainly has the ability to stretch the fight to test Stevenson’s legs and remind the world that the Haitian is 37 years old. Toronto hasn’t seen a great prizefight without skates on the fighters’ feet in a long, long time, and tonight’s tilt between might not change that. But there’s an outside chance that Karpency could make things interesting, and live up to his fateful nickname.