Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack odds, fight, predictions, Showtime boxing in Toronto
Get ready for a busy night in boxing when a pair of top light heavyweights square off
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson may very well be one of the best fighters in the division and of the last few years, but the WBC's titleholder could be facing his toughest test to date on Saturday night in Toronto when he squares off against Badou Jack.
Stevenson, 40, will look to defend his WBC and lineal championship in the main event of a split-site doubleheader from Air Canada Centre in Toronto (10:05 p.m. ET, Showtime) while Featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr. defends against Joseph Diaz Jr. in the co-feature from Oxon Hill, Maryland.
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It's not that Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) has operated in a weak division, nor is it that all of his title defenses have come against weak opposition (although in some cases, strong arguments can be made). But Stevenson does deserve criticism for never having gone out of his way to seek out the most dangerous challenges, particularly Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez, the latter of whom was Stevenson's mandatory opponent for two full years in a fight that never came to fruition.
Showtime boxing fight card
|Adonis Stevenson (c) -115||Badou Jack -115||Light heavyweight|
Gary Russell Jr. (c) -275
Joseph Diaz +215
Kovalev, the WBO champion, and the unbeaten Alvarez will meet Aug. 4 in Atlantic City. It's a promotion that has been dubbed "Supermen" by Kovalev promoter Main Events, both as a reference to the fighters' respective nicknames of "Krusher" and "Storm," but mostly as a backhanded reference to both having been avoided by Stevenson, whose nickname is "Superman."
The addition of Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) to the division instantly added another credible and dangerous name. A native of Sweden who fights out of Las Vegas, the 34-year-old Jackfollowing Andre Ward's exit in recent years and successfully debuted at 175 pounds last August when he retired Nathan Cleverly and claimed a world title in his second division (which he vacated shortly after).
Despite arriving to the title level in his late 30s, Stevenson has never looked like an old fighter. A native of Haiti who fights out of Quebec, Stevenson may not have defended his title as actively in recent years nor sought out the toughest competition. But he has still proven to be athletic and dangerous, particularly with his weapon of choice -- the left hand.
Outside of an exciting brawl with Thomas Williams Jr. in 2016, the only true vulnerable moment of Stevenson's reign came in his first meeting with Andrzej Fanfare four years ago. After dominating early, Stevenson began to fade late and was dropped in Round 9 before hanging on by decision.
Fonfara, who was blown away inside of two rounds in their rematch last June, fared well in the first fight because of his workmanlike and steady style, which included an upright stance, strong jab and timely right hands. In some ways, Fonfara is a poor man's version of what Jack does well, which could make this an interesting fight should Jack survive Stevenson's early assault.
Stevenson has long been more of a slugger and head hunter than traditional boxer. He doesn't rely on his jab and tends to need space to get off his big shots. There's an opening there for Jack to find success on the inside by working the body and using the combination of volume and aggression to outwork the champion.
Of course, it all comes down to whether Jack proves durable enough to take Stevenson's best shots. If he does, the long reign of "Superman" could be in jeopardy.
Pick: Jack via majority decision.
Gary Russell Jr. (c) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr.
The third defense of his 126-pound title has Russell (28-1, 17 KOs) competing in his backyard of Maryland on a card featuring a pair of his younger brothers. The bout will also double as an extreme step up in class for Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs), the 25-year-old former U.S. Olympian from Southern California.
Russell, 29, has looked like nothing short of a monster since his lone pro defeat in 2014 against current pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko. And despite how much chronic inactivity and questionable matchmaking had soiled his reputation at times, he appears to be operating at the very peak of his prime and ready to take on the biggest names.
A southpaw with lightning quick hands, Russell is most dangerous as a combination puncher, with the speed and accuracy to exchange at close distance before darting away from trouble. He also has a significant edge in experience, which could prove to be the most vital in lifting him to victory.
For as aggressive and fun as Diaz is, he doesn't have the speed or power to match Russell and hasn't faced an opponent even remotely as talented up to this point. While it may seem that Diaz's best chance is luring the more polished Russell into a brawl, the last two opponents who have tried -- Jhonny Gonzalez, Patrick Hyland and Oscar Escandon -- all ended up looking at the lights.
This feels a bit like too much, too soon for Diaz, who is hungry but severely outgunned.
Pick: Russell via TKO7.
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