By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
|Stevenson crushes Dawson.|
With one single left cross that possessed the force of super-breath and dropped Chad Dawson like the gravity would on Krypton, Quebec witnessed the arrival of Superman on June 8th at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The protagonist was not wearing a red cape however, or a blue costume emblazoned with a red-and-yellow "S" shield, rather the equally distinguishable yellow shorts of Detriot’s Kronk Gym, the place where this Canadian Clark Kent had cultivated his power.
Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson wiped out Dawson in one round to claim the WBC light heavyweight crown in his adopted home and this Saturday he returns to the Bell Centre to defend his title against a new nemesis. Tavoris ‘Thunder’ Cloud is hoping to bring the Kryptonite and re-establish himself as a force at 175lbs, after losing his aura of invincibility – and an IBF world title – against Bernard Hopkins in March.
|Cloud hasn't been in impressive form.|
Cloud (24-1, 19 KO’s) lost his unbeaten record against the history-making 48-year-old master, though many would argue his imposing-looking resume had already been devalued by his split-decision win over Gabriel Campillo a year earlier. Cloud had Campillo down twice, but struggled with the Spaniard for the majority of the twelve rounds and escaped with what many believe to be a controversial and ultimately very lucky decision.
No dispute can surround Stevenson’s rise to the summit of the light heavyweight ranks, with eight consecutive stoppage victories following his solitary loss, which he avenged by sixth-round knockout of Darnell Boone in his penultimate bout. The 36-year-old has awesome punching power but there’s much more in his locker including pretty underrated boxing ability and rather than free-swinging with his power shots, he sets them up methodically with jabs and feints.
Cloud possesses power that could potentially rival that of Stevenson but is more of a stereotypical puncher in that he looks for the knockout, and a pressure fighter with a high punch output. Where he lacks however is in his defensive capabilities, or at least his disregard for defending against the punches that are coming back at him, though he’s never hit the canvas and likely trumps Stevenson in his ability to take a punch.
Stevenson (21-1, 18 KO’s) was stopped by Boone in his only career defeat and would not appear to occupy the granite chin that Cloud does. Should they go toe-to-toe therefore, you’d perhaps favour Cloud to get the better of those exchanges. The 31-year-old Florida native is certainly a bigger puncher than Boone.
Then again, Stevenson will also be the hardest hitter that Cloud has faced, so although he has proven whiskers, it remains to be seen whether he can take Adonis’s power. An ideal gameplan for the champion nonetheless would be to try and keep this fight on the outside with his jab, stopping Cloud from entering his comfort zone up close and providing plenty of room to set up that huge left hand. For the challenger, getting inside Stevenson’s punching range has got to be the target where he can wear Superman down with his activity and neutralise the champion’s speed.
I think this is pretty much a 50/50 fight. Both men have knockout power, with Cloud the better chin but Stevenson, in my opinion, the better overall boxing ability. Having said that, looking for a deciding factor, I feel that what Boone did to Stevenson could be significant.
Stevenson will be wary of Cloud, or should be and might be a little tentative in the early stages, though he’ll box well and avoid being dragged into a war. He could of course land a bomb out of nowhere again and finish Cloud early, but if he doesn’t, the longer the fight goes I think it becomes Cloud’s fight with him bringing the pressure and forcing Stevenson off his gameplan.
I think it becomes a tear-up and if Stevenson can hang on and it goes the distance, I could see him winning a decision, particularly at home, with him banking the majority of the early rounds. If I had to make a pick though, I’d lean towards Cloud and I think that he could score a late stoppage, to spring the upset and resurrect his career by becoming the lineal light heavyweight king.