(Photo credit: Amanda Kwok / PBC on CBS) Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions return on CBS for an 80’s-esque throwback this Saturday afternoon live from the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada. The main event matches the current lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson against tough-as-nails and former super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika. The co-main event features another step in the promising career of Arthur Beterbiev when he faces Gabriel Campillo.
The CBS broadcast harkens back to the days when boxing was a staple on terrestrial television in the afternoon, a time when the general public recognized more than just a few big names in boxing. Considering the promotion behind this event on CBS it’s too bad the top of this card wasn’t put together with more effort. No disrespect to Sakio Bika, who cut his teeth against the best fighters in his weight class in the last ten years or so. Of late though it appears the best days are behind the iron-chinned Bika. In the first of his two fights versus Anthony Dirrell something seemed different. He didn’t have that same spunk and what became obvious to see only worsened in the rematch.
Surely climbing up in weight will make matters worse and one wonders just how competitive this bout can be. The fight screams premium-cable-style matchmaking with the “it” fighter matched to highlight his skills instead of testing his will. This practice is well established but in this case it only adds fuel to a fire that has been burning within boxing fans in open protest of Adonis Stevenson for over a year now. The flame ignited last spring and burned all through the year in response to Stevenson ducking three fights in a row.
Kovalev was first in line at the negotiation table for a fight against Stevenson but that event fell out over Adonis wanting some extra doe late in the process. The failed talks were already a hot button topic on social media but at least he had Bernard Hopkins as a solid alternative to quiet some of the raging storm. Bhop claimed Adonis drug his feet in their negotiations so he moved on and over from Showtime to HBO, surprisingly signing a fight with Sergey Kovalev when it looked as though Hopkins had become just another fatality of the Cold War. Finally, Jean Pascal and Stevenson were trying to make a Canadian super fight but once again it failed over purse split.
Meanwhile, Sergey Kovalev is rightfully seen universally (unofficially anyway) as the top fighter at 175 having scored two dominating wins over Hopkins and Pascal. A purse bid scheduled for mid April may solve this thing once and for all. Or it will add more layers of politics to further stall the process.
What can the viewing audience both live at the arena and at home expect out of this main event fight? The X’s and 0’s of this bout are fairly cut and dry with not many variables for Sakio Bika to upset the apple-cart. The casual or random sports fan checking their guide to see what time the College Baskeball Final Four starts, won’t give two-shits how this fight is seen to the masses of hardcore fans that have every right to dump on it. And Sakio Bika’s track record of being an unbreakable fighter will be easy to sell to a non-boxing fan. Does Bika have the Kryptonite to stop Superman? Unless Sakio Bika can travel back in time to a few years back it’s unlikely he will test this lineal champ.
Bika must land hard shots early and often by cutting the distance from the jump. Stevenson will enjoy a reach advantage and has the skills to keep this fight at range. Inside work to the body could slow down Adonis and possible create an opening for Bika to test the at times suspect chin of the boxer who calls himself “Superman”. Judging by the amount of wear and tear Bika has to his tread it will be very hard for him to bring constant pressure. They say a fighter’s power is the last to go so Bika’s best chance to pull the unlikely upset is to combine that power with his solid punch resistance and go for broke.
Besides a few rough or slow moments early, Stevenson should dominate this matchup with his speed, combinations punching, and movement. There’s an outside chance Adonis leaves himself wide open trying to create a one-punch KO result. Also, Adonis issues with stamina in recent times could come to the light and end up playing a major factor in the later rounds. I see this fight favoring Stevenson’s and fully expect him to look impressive as ever.
My official prediction is Adonis Stevenson by Unanimous Decision.
The undercard bout could be seen as a mismatch for similar reasons as the main event. Yes, Gabriel Campillo is a skilled boxer who has competed at a high level. Yes, he’s been robbed and never quite got his just due as being a fundamentally sound fighter. The problem is his days are numbered in the sport and in the last few years he’s been relegated to gatekeeper. I do think Campillo will still be able to teach the young prospect turned contender a few lessons early with movement and a stiff jab. I wouldn’t be shocked if Gabriel had some sort of success in the opening rounds. At some point Artur Beterbiev will catch him with something big and change Campillo’s demeanor. Look for Beterbiev who is 7-0 with 7 KO’s to slow down, hurt, and eventually stop Gabriel Campillo.
My official prediction is Artur Beterbiev by mid to late stoppage.
Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope A Dope Radio blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
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