San Diego, Calif., May 19, 2018 – Badou Jack gave light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson the toughest test of his career, falling a single point short of becoming the new WBC champion. In a razor thin result, judges scored it a majority draw. Two cards were dead even; the third had it 115-113 for Badou Jack.
The veteran Stevenson was the far busier man in the ring for the first six rounds of the fight. Jack displayed a lot of caution, respecting the power of Stevenson which has sent a lot of opponents to the showers early via a single punch. Stevenson displayed a wide array of punches, but nothing Jack couldn’t handle.
As the second half of the bout got underway, Jack got a lot busier and the fight got a lot more interesting. Jack put together two excellent back to back rounds, and by the end of the eighth round, blood was coming from the champion’s nose. Stevenson takes criticism for a lack of stamina, and if it was Jack’s plant to let Stevenson become fatigued and then move in for the kill, it looked as if the plan might work.
By round 9, Jack started fighting much closer to Stevenson, landing left hooks and upper cuts on the inside. Near the end of the round, Jack landed a solid right hand and popped Stevenson with a left upper cut, hurting the 40-year-old Stevenson. It was Jack’s best round of the right. In the corner, Stevenson’s longtime trainer Sugar Hill told the champion he had to step up his effort.
Both men left their best effort to the end of the fight
Perhaps fearing the fight was slipping away from him, Stevenson mustered his strength and went to the body of Jack in the 10th and 11th rounds, inflicting some damage and stopping Jack’s offense. Jack dug deep and fired off a few shots of his own.
It looked like the outcome might come down to the final round. Trainer Sugar Hill told Stevenson “Slow the pace down and pick your damn shots,” which Badou Jack’s trainer told him the opposite, saying, “Use your legs and use your speed.” The crowd was on its feet as the two big men loaded up on their shots with whatever energy they had left. Jack tried to fight on the insight, as Stevenson held and referee Ian John Lewis kept having to intervene. Jack unloaded everything he had in the final seconds as blood came from Stevenson’s nose, the champion barely on his feet as the final bell sounded. The last round was extremely close as the fight went to the scorecards.
With the draw, Stevenson walks away with his WBC title in a squeaker. No judge scored it for Stevenson.
“I thought I definately won the fight,” said Jack. “Nobody’s complaining. No judge had him winning.” Jack speculated the judges might not like his promoter, Floyd Mayweather. “To be honest, I don’t know. Thank God for everything, I have love for everything, I can’t do anything about it.”
Did Jack think he may have started his efforts too late into the fight? “Maybe, yeah. But he didn’t really hit me either, so nothing happened. It is what it is, I can’t do anything about it.”
Stevenson gave Jack credit for being a quality challenger. “Badou is a two time world champion, he is a good fighter. But I feel I won the fight … I kept pressure on him, I hurt him in the body and slowed him down, I kept pressuring him. I touched him more all the time …”
Who’s up for Stevenson vs. Jack 2?
Stevenson said he’d be willing to give Jack a rematch. “Definitely, I love it. Superman’s in the building baby.” Jack said he’s up for it, but suggested the rematch take place on his home turf this time in Las Vegas. “Let’s do a rematch. Let’s do it in Vegas. I came to his back yard, now it’s his turn to come to mine.”
Stevenson landed 165 of 622 total punches (27 percent), to 209 of 549 for Jack (38 percent). Jack landed 55 jabs to just 21 for Stevenson, and also had the edge in power punches, 154 to 144.
A rematch may be the smartest move for Stevenson. The light heavyweight division is packed with power punchers like Sergey Kovalev, Dmitry Bivol, and Artur Beterbiev who have the capability of doing a lot more damage to the aging Stevenson than Jack could. He’s been called Chickenson so long, what does it matter if he keeps avoiding them.
Gary Russell Jr. too skilled for a determined Joseph Diaz Jr.
In an entertaining fight delivering a lively 12 rounds of action, featherweight WBC world featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KOs) successfully defended his title with a unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-1, 14 KOs) of Los Angeles. Scores were 117-111 X2 and 115-113.
Russell proved too skilled and too fast for the younger challenger, but Diaz gave Russell a lot to think about in the ring and was in the fight until the closing bell. Diaz Jr and his trainer/father Joseph Sr. came up with the right game plan focusing on body work. But Russell Jr.’s busy jab and defensive skills frequently prevented Diaz Jr. from getting to him, and Diaz Jr. didn’t really have a solid plan B.
Russell said he gave himself a C-minus grade for the fight. “He needed to be close, he wanted to close the distance. We got the job, we were able to make the necessar sadjustments,” said Ruseell Jr. “He was a very tough competitor. As a world champion, I wouldn’t want anything less. I knew he was going to bring his physical best.”
Diaz was competitive in most rounds, and when he was able to deliver his body shots and get through Russell Jr.’s, guard, he was effective. But Diaz Jr. wasn’t busy enough. Russell Jr. was always in motion, throwing and moving. Diaz Jr.’s offense would stall at times while he tried to find workarounds, and it allowed Russell Jr. to win rounds.
No doubt though, Russell Jr. had to work plenty hard for the win. Diaz Jr. fought well and showed he belongs in the discussion at the top levels of a very competitive featherweight division. If Diaz Jr. and his father take the lessons learned back to the gym and improve form the experience, the loss will mean nothing compared to the value of the experience.
Let’s see Russell Jr. more than once a year in 2018
Russell Jr. is such a pleasure to watch, his relative lack of knockout power doesn’t matter. It’s frustrating for fans when Russell fights only once a year. Let’s please get him back in the ring against a quality opponent. How about the winner of the Santa Cruz vs. Mares rematch, or Carl Frampton? Russell said he’s all for it.
“I would love to as long as my body is healthy … “I would love the winner of that fight. We’ve been trying to get a unification bout for the last three years now. It hasn’t happened. We’re ready. Let’s get it. If you want this strap, come get it.”
And the new: Warrington takes IBF featherweight title from Selby
Earlier today, a title changed hands in a surprisingly entertainment fight full of enough action to make any boxing fan happy. Challenger Josh Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs) defeated Lee Selby (26-2, 9 KOs) in a bloody 12 round battle, becoming the new IBF world featherweight champion. The judge’s scores were 116-112 and 115-113 for Warrington, and 115-113 for Selby.
It’s hard to see how anyone could have scored the fight for Selby. Warrington was by far the more aggressive fighter, strafing Selby with headshots and backing the champion up for much of the fight. Selby, the overwhelming favorite to hold onto his title, suffered a serious cut by accidental head butt over the left eye early in the fight. Warrington didn’t appear to have a mark on him after the bout was over.
Selby’s excellent jab didn’t come out to play much at all, or it might have slowed Warrington down. Warrington demonstrated impressive stamina, never slowing down through all 12 rounds. Selby did an admirable job keeping up, especially considering the unfortunate circumstances with the cut, but it’s all part of boxing.
Warrington dropped to his knees on the canvas, overwhelmed by the emotion of winning the title as he heard “And new” from announcer Thomas Trieber. He is the first world champion ever from Leeds, England. Warrington now gets his shot at Belfast’s Carl Frampton, who was ringside providing color commentary for a British broadcast. This match up just made everyone’s must see list before 2018 is over. Then let’s put the winner up against Gary Russell Jr.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2018 by Falcon Valley Group