By Gayle Falkenthal
SAN DIEGO, January 1, 2014 – Choosing a Fighter of the Year for 2013 was a serious challenge. There were numerous legitimate choices this year. Ring the opening bell and let’s get started.
A half dozen boxers made my short list: Timothy Bradley, Danny Garcia, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Floyd Mayweather, and Adonis Stevenson. Three of these contenders fought four times in 2013: Golovkin, Kovalev, and Stevenson. All their fights ended in knockouts. It comes down to the quality of the stoppage, the competition, and the circumstances putting the fighter in the ring.
While it was a tough call for me between Golovkin and Stevenson, the nod goes to Haitian-born Canadian light heavyweight Adonis Stevenson. He started his year avenging his single loss to Darnell Boone in March with a sixth round knockout.
The word epic gets overused. It applies perfectly to Stevenson’s first round knockout of Chad Dawson at one minute and 16 seconds into their June 8 bout. It was an astonishing display of power. Even more amazing is that Stevenson didn’t even hit Dawson cleanly. Nevertheless, Dawson was stunned. Although he got off the canvas, the referee examined Dawson and stopped the fight.
A few months later, Stevenson defended the light heavyweight title he won from Dawson, taking Tavoris Cloud apart. Cloud’s corner called the fight after seven rounds. It was the first time Cloud had ever been stopped.
Stevenson ended the year with another sixth round TKO against Tony Bellew. Bellew talked a good game, and had a four inch height advantage against Stevenson, but it didn’t help him. Stevenson greatly outworked Bellew, landing 81 punches to Bellew’s 36.
Every fight for Stevenson this year was a victory over a challenging past including prison time. He got a late start in boxing at age 28 in 2006. It was only a few years ago when the respected trainer Emanuel Steward told Stevenson he believed in his ability to become a great champion that he started to believe it too. After Steward’s death in late 2012, every fight became an emotional tribute to the man who Stevenson owes so much, and for Stevenson’s trainer, Steward’s nephew Sugar Hill.
Stevenson’s possibilities now seem endless. The man who goes by the nickname “Superman” is a legitimate contender in two weight classes with outstanding oppoents in both. Fans can look forward to seeing Stevenson in 2014; many hope it’s against one of our Fighter of the Year runners-up, Sergey Kovalev.
Most of Stevenson’s fights have been in Quebec. It would be great to see him south of the border in the U.S. in 2014. How about a fight in Florida for his Caribbean fans? Or perhaps a bit closer to home in Madison Square Garden?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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