Super middleweight world champion Andre Ward of Oakland has been running out of opponents, but he just might have found one last Saturday in the boxing hotbed of Montreal.
With his left cross arriving faster than a speeding bullet, Adonis “Superman” Stevenson shockingly disposed of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in just 76 seconds.
Dawson, if local fight fans remember, openly challenged Ward last September, descending from the 175-pound division to the Oakland native’s 168-pound limit only to get pummeled in 10 rounds at Oracle Arena.
Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) did the opposite, moving up from super middleweight to meet Dawson at his weight class, overwhelming him with his signature freakish power.
The cerebral Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) was in attendance to witness the spectacle as a color commentator for HBO, and Stevenson’s promoter is now pushing for his fighter to face the East Bay star next.
“Adonis’s first wish would be to fight Bernard Hopkins, and if that’s not feasible to make that fight, his second wish would be to fight Andre Ward,” said Yvon Michel. “Everyone is aware Ward is looking for an opponent that he hasn’t fought. He tried to fight [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., or Carl Froch, but Froch seems to be busy somewhere else, so he’s desperate to sign a quality opponent.”
Ward, who has recovered from surgery to his right shoulder and is back in the gym, has targeted a September return, according to his promoter Dan Goossen. Having already cleaned out the super middleweight division, the fighter known as “S.O.G.” has flirted with a move up to light heavyweight in the past.
But with few tantalizing options at 175 pounds (Hopkins has stated he would never fight Ward, whom he considers a protégé) and potentially lucrative rematches overseas with Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler or England’s Froch at 168—both of whom the East Bay star has already defeated handily—no one could fault him for pursuing the bigger paydays at his stage of his career.
However, the emergence of Stevenson has the boxing world buzzing, and Michel has proposed a two-bout series where each man can defend his respective title on his own home turf.
“Adonis can fight at 168 or 175, so what we’re willing to do is to go to Oakland in September at 168, but on the condition that there’s a written rematch here [in Montreal] at 175, regardless of the result [in the first fight],” Michel said.
Pugilistic pundits have universally ranked Ward ahead of everyone except Floyd Mayweather as the best fighter on the planet regardless of weight class. However, Michel and Stevenson have thrown down the gauntlet.
“All great fighters have fought in more than one class, sometimes two, three, or four,” Michel said. “They usually have no problem moving up divisions. Mayweather’s the king at 147 pounds, and is taking on the young king at 154 (Saul “Canelo” Alvarez).
“Floyd believes in his ability, and if he stayed in the lower divisions, he never would have been the pay-per-view king like he is now. If Ward wants to get there, he’ll take on Adonis.”
SAN LEANDRO’S MARAON IN ESPN2-TELEVISED TITLE ELIMINATOR
San Leandro bantamweight Jundy Maraon makes his American television debut Friday night in South Orange, N.J., when he faces Juan Carlos Payano in a 12-round battle of unbeaten southpaws (ESPN2, 7 p.m).
The WBA has ruled the fight a world title eliminator, so the winner will get a shot at the sanctioning body’s reigning 118-pound “regular” beltholder Koki Kameda of Japan, who faces Filipino John Mark Apolinario in July.
“We’ve studying everything on my opponent, from his movement to his tendencies,” said Maraon, who trains at the Kennel Boxing Gym with Nonito Donaire Sr. “This is the biggest opportunity of my career.”
Maraon (15-0-1, 12 KOs), originally from Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines, possesses a heavy left hand at his disposal, having stopped seven of his last eight foes by the sixth round.
However, keeping that left hand healthy has been a recurring issue for the promising southpaw, as Maraon has only fought once in the last four years leading up to this weekend’s tilt, a three-round thrashing of Ernie Marquez last September.
“When I first got Jundy, he only had the left hand,” Donaire Sr. told Philippine News’ Truth Esguerra. “But now he’s got both hands…It’s going to be a good fight.”
The 28-year-old Maraon is cognizant that time is ticking on his career, and his team vows that a sense of urgency will be on full display against Payano (13-0, 7 KOs), a two-time Olympian from the Dominican Republic.
“Payano likes to come forward and throws a lot of punches, which is something that plays into Jundy’s hands because of his power,” said Arvin Jugarap, who will assist Donaire Sr. in the corner. “This is big for Jundy and our gym, and he’s going to show everyone how we’ve been training over here.”
HERCULES SLUGGER VASQUEZ ON SAME CARD
In the off-television portion of the Maraon-Payano undercard, Hercules light heavyweight Paul Vasquez (9-3-1, 3 KOs) takes on Lavarn Harvell (12-0, 7 KOs).
Vasquez has been invited to visit patients at the local Children’s Hospital in Newark, N.J., to whom he will donate his entire purse, as has been his custom his past few fights.
“Harvell’s got good power, a lot of amateur experience, and he’s fighting at home, so I know I can’t go in there trying to win a decision,” Vasquez said.
ANGULO DROPS LARA TWICE BUT LOSES BY LATE TKO
Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo had knocked down Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) in the fourth and ninth rounds, and seemed to be on the verge of stopping the Cuban in Carson’s StubHub Center last Saturday en route to capturing the WBA junior middleweight interim title.
However, Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs) began to feel unbearable discomfort in his left eye in the 10th round and referee Raul Caiz Sr. halted the fight. (The injury was later diagnosed as a contusion with no permanent effects.) Angulo, who trained in Hayward with Virgil Hunter, led 86-83 on one card and trailed 85-84 on the other two before the stoppage.
“The sharp pain of [Lara’s] thumb in my eye caused me to turn my back out of reflex and I could not see out of my left eye,” Angulo said in a statement. “I accept the decision made by the referee to stop the fight and look forward to getting back in the ring in the future.”
On the same card, Fairfield junior featherweight Manuel “Tino” Avila (12-0, 4 KOs) shut out Jamal Parram (6-8-1, 4 KOs) by eight-round unanimous decision to remain undefeated. Another Fairfield fighter, welterweight Alan Sanchez (12-2-1, 6 KOs), had his fight postponed.