Adonis Stevenson and The Emperor’s New Clothes

MONTREAL — Last weekend at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (29–1, 24 KOs) scored a second round stoppage over Polish contender Andrzej Fonfara (29–5, 17 KOs).

The fight with Fonfara was the proverbial rematch that nobody asked for of a fight that took place three years earlier in 2014. Three years in sports, in general, is a longtime, in boxing, it can be an eternity. At the end of 2013, Stevenson was on top of the boxing world winning fighter of the year honors having fought four times along with scoring one of the best knockouts of the year.

That year Stevenson avenged his only defeat against Darnell Boone (23–24–4, 12 KOs) and stopped Chad Dawson (34–5, 19 KOs) in the first round to become the lineal and WBC light heavyweight champion. Add in two stoppage victories over Tavoris Cloud (24–3, 19 KOs) and Tony Bellew (29–2–1, 19 KOs), and you have one of the better years any boxer has had in the last few years.

Afterward, drama ensued with Stevenson leaving HBO for Showtime and signing with famed-advisor Al Haymon. Fights with other top light heavyweights never happened, and with the second victory over Fonfara, we are now full circle in Stevenson’s career.

Since Stevenson signed with Haymon he has faced Fonfara twice, Dmitry Sukhotskiy (23–5, 16 KOs), Sakio Bika (32–7–3, 21 KOs), Tommy Karpency (27–6–1, 16 KOs), and Thomas Williams Jr. (20–3, 14 KOs). After fighting four times in 2013, Stevenson fought twice in 2014 and 2015 and just once in 2016. None of these fights were title unification bouts or even against a big name like Jean Pascal (31–5–1, 18 KOs) that could have been huge events in Canada. In 2015, Ring Magazine stripped Stevenson of their title due to a lack of competition. Whatever the reason the inability to make a fight with Sergey Kovalev (30–1–1, 26 KOs) or any other top light heavyweight has made Stevenson’s stock drop at an alarming rate.

Many may remember the Danish children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In this story, an Emperor desires two weavers to make him a new set of clothes and they say to him that the clothes are invisible only to people who are “unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent.” It turns out that the Emperor was not wearing any clothes at all and the only person to tell him so was a child. In Stevenson’s case after he won his fight with Fonfara he paraded himself around the ring with a crown. It would seem that his promoter Yvon Michel and advisor Al Haymon have told Stevenson he wears an invisible crown as the light heavyweight king when the rest of the world see’s him with no such no crown and they have not for quite some time now. The difference between the children’s story and Stevenson is that fans are not afraid to let him know that he is not the king at light heavyweight. What he holds in common with the Emperor in the story is his delusions and inability to accept reality. Stevenson spoke to the Montreal Gazette regarding his status in the light heavyweight division.

“I’m the king. It doesn’t bother me. It has been four years I’m the champ. Talk like that doesn’t mean anything. The opportunity, when it’s coming. It’s coming. It’s not my fault when Kovalev pulled out. It’s not my fault when Hopkins went on HBO. That’s the game. I don’t care, and I don’t listen to people like that. I’m the king of the light-heavyweights. When you’re the king, for sure you’re going to be criticized. You have people who don’t like that. People talk, talk, talk. You can talk, but I’m still the champion.”

— Adonis Stevenson

Next weekend on June 17th Andre Ward (31–0, 15 KOs) and Sergey Kovalev (30–1–1, 26 KOs) will fight in a highly anticipated rematch for three of the four major titles at light heavyweight. Both Ward and Kovalev are listed on many fans and pundits lists as one of the ten best fighters in the world pound-for-pound. Stevenson is once again left behind and out of the conversation. In a press conference leading up to the Fonfara rematch, Stevenson spoke of fighting the winner of the rematch between Kovalev and Ward.

“I want unification, to unify the titles. I want the winner of Ward and Kovalev, to unify the titles. The fans want that. It’s been a while now, and it’s time for 175 to have one king. I’m the king of the light heavyweight champions, and I want all the titles in my hands. The fans want that, too.”

— Adonis Stevenson

The Haitian Champion is an enigma. In his statements after his victory over Fonfara, he seemed apathetic and did not mention Ward or Kovalev. Besides the winner of the Ward-Kovalev rematch, there stands Stevenson’s WBC mandatory Eleider Alvarez (23–0, 11 KOs). In his post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray, Stevenson seemed to be content with his current status as long as he get’s to wear his crown.

“I’ll let Al Haymon take care of everything. I want to thank Al Haymon. I am the greatest, I am the king. So, I don’t have to call anybody. Wherever Al Haymon puts me, I’m ready.

— Adonis Stevenson

There have been fewer falls from grace as long-winded and tiresome as that of Stevenson. Boxing media and fans treat his fights now with the same apathetic nature one would to celebrity boxing matches. The WBC champion has become a punch line and an afterthought to most.

Regardless, if Stevenson ever does step in the ring with Kovalev or Ward, he has a chance to pull off a victory, as his left hand is still one of the best punches in all of boxing. It’s been years now of Stevenson wearing an invisible crown. Surrounded by yes men and those who enable his illusions make it hard to believe that he’ll want to reach for that proverbial brass ring. For now, he wears a crown that only he can see, the real one he’ll have to go out and earn.

(Feature Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Originally published on June 10, 2017 at

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