Once a boxer hits a certain level… he’s confronted with a choice of direction that can severely alter his career. It’s a decision that provides all you need to know about a fighter’s intentions in the fight game. Motive is often questioned. The questions are spawned from a simple conflict that continues to hover over boxing… Is money more important than legacy?
Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs) found himself staring this decision in the face earlier this year. The light heavyweight southpaw with tremendous punching power worked himself into the conversation as one of the best fighters in the world, coming off three straight brutalizing performances against the likes of Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew.
The path seemed set… a low risk bout versus Andrzej Fonfara and then a light heavyweight showdown with equally impressive and destructive Sergey Kovalev (25-0, 23 KOs). A bout that was highly touted and discussed as the most anticipated fight this side of Pacquiao-Mayweather. Two devastating punchers in the ring fighting to unify in what has become this generation’s version of the heavyweight division.
When Adonis chose to sign with Al Haymon in February of this year, the direction of the Haitian born fighter became apparent…
"Now, I have so many more options," said Stevenson. "It is great to know that I have a great advisor representing my future." – per Lem Satterfield of The Ring.
Shortly after, Adonis chose to take his talents to Showtime, leaving HBO behind in a contract dispute over the Fonfara fight. HBO states it had a “handshake” deal with Stevenson to fight Fonfara leading up to an eventual showdown with Kovalev.
The choice Stevenson made not only upset the boxing community; it provided clarity on what Adonis Stevenson truly wants out of the fight game. He chose financial security over solidifying his legacy.
Adonis is going to be 37 years old next month. It’s safe to say he’s not going to be fighting for another ten years.
The path chosen offered the Fonfara bout for more money followed by a unification bout with the legendary and age defiant Bernard Hopkins, while walking away from a legacy defining fight with Sergey Kovalev.
Less risk. More reward. The quintessential Al Haymon business model.
Now this isn’t the first time a boxer has chosen the path of least resistance… and he definitely will not be the last. Unfortunately for Adonis Stevenson, he never envisioned the path leaving him on the outside looking in.
Boxing is a fluid business… as HBO found out earlier this year when a supposed “handshake” deal and colossal match-up between Stevenson and Kovalev dissipated… and Karma is a… well, you know.
While Stevenson’s popularity has taken a major hit after his decision and poor performance against Fonfara, Bernard Hopkins inked a deal to fight Sergey Kovalev in November of this year, leaving Stevenson the odd man out. It turns out his path of least resistance is turning out to be exactly that… with not much reward.
Adonis Stevenson is set to fight on September 27th with no opponent named. Sources state that Jean Pascal is a possible foe. Not exactly what Stevenson had planned and not the path he expected…
“Next fight after September 27 is a unification for the WBA title against Juergen Braehmer in December or January,” said Stevenson “After this fight, I’ll take the winner between Hopkins and Kovalev.” – from Adonis Stevenson’s facebook page
So with his decision, Adonis Stevenson went from the brink of superstardom to walking away from Kovalev… struggling against Fonfara… losing the Hopkins bout… followed by a TBA opponent and Juergen Braehmer… with the HOPE of meeting the winner of Hopkins-Kovalev. Looks like he went from taking the path of least resistance… to the scenic route.
Remember, boxing is a fluid business… anything can happen between now and then. What if Stevenson loses or has another lackluster performance? What if Hopkins beats Kovalev and retires?
Stevenson had an opportunity to solidify his legacy by daring to be great and sticking with the original plan. He would’ve walked into the Kovalev bout as a slight favorite and the “A” side of one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. Now he finds himself in the shadow of Kovalev with no opportunity to climb out in the near future. If Kovalev destroys Hopkins, it will only widen the gap between the two. If Hopkins pulls off the upset, it’s still a losing situation because Kovalev was the legacy defining fight.
Maybe a little doubt clouded Stevenson’s judgment. Kovalev offered the type of risk that could end a fighter’s career. A knockout loss to Kovalev would have been devastating… but a victory would have been life changing. As Jean De La Fontaine said, a person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it…
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