(Jun 8, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Adonis Stevenson [gold/yellow] celebrates after knocking out Chad Dawson [not pictured] during the first round of their light heavyweight championship bout at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
Whoa. That happened. Adonis Stevenson scored a massive upset on HBO Saturday night, and did it in a jaw-dropping fashion, when he stopped light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson with one shotgun left hand in the very 1st round.
There were some who thought Stevenson had a chance. There were more who thought Dawson, one of the best talents of the past five years or so, would have no trouble at all. Nobody thought Stevenson would put his lights out in the 1st round. And maybe that's not entirely accurate, because Dawson somehow rose for the count. But he didn't have his wits about him, and the ref could see he was in no shape to continue*, and the stoppage was justified, despite the complaints from the Dawson camp afterward.
You do have to ask if Dawson was damaged goods coming in after a failed experiment at 168 against Andre Ward, a la the Roy Jones weight-shifting that probably helped set up his knockout loss to Antonio Tarver in their rematch. Dawson took some heavy punishment from Ward at the lighter weight. On the other hand, it just might be that Stevenson, a huge puncher at 168, carried some of his power up and then some when he arrived at 175. But Dawson's future is very much in doubt; many were already clamoring for his exile from HBO, and if he's not winning, I'm not sure what point is left to airing his bouts.
I wouldn't go so far as ring announcer Michael Buffer in heralding Stevenson as a "superstar," but he's definitely a player at 168 and 175 now, as HBO's Ward suggested. I like the idea of him taking on the winner of Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute in a kind of Canadian tournament. Stevenson said he'd want Ward or Bernard Hopkins. I know I can watch any guy who only needs three punches to become the lineal light heavyweight champion of the world.
On the undercard, Yuriorkis Gamboa did himself no favors with a unanimous decision win over Darley Perez. HBO's team was convinced that Gamboa was a confused fighter, but that's not how I see it. He's a fighter who, at 126 and somewhat at 130, could knock out people or at least drop them with spectacular ease. He's the same guy, but in a new neighborhood now. At 135, he had to cuff Perez around the back of the head in the 1st to score a feeble semi-knockdown. He dominated the early part of the fight with his unorthodox movement and speed, aided by Perez barely throwing any punches. But late in the fight, Perez ratcheted up the volume and began to time Gamboa, who no longer could hurt Perez and in fact had trouble finding him. Gamboa, who apparently told HBO that he took some substance or the other from Biogenesis but didn't know if was illegal or not, has, between that incident and his long layoff and promoter switcheroo and now an increasing tendency toward lackluster fights, has left fans with no reason to care about him anymore.