Did you buy any of that? Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson easily handled an aging, clumsy (yet sturdy) super middleweight in Sakio Bika in CBS’ afternoon broadcast of “Premier Boxing Champions,” landing the same punch over and over again and showboating. Then, at the end, Brent Stover, during the post-fight interview, declared it an “epic fight.” No. Just — just no.
There were things that went well about this edition of PBC, the many be-tentacled creation of boxing adviser Al Haymon. Paulie Malignaggi and Virgil Hunter have their detractors, deservedly, yet their analysis of the main event and the undercard fight were very good. The show was well-produced. Kevin Harlan was all right.
But the match-up was a poor one, destined for Stevenson to win. Bika had some competitive rounds, definitively winning the 12th, maybe a handful of others; despite the fight being on Stevenson’s Canadian soil, the judges had it closer than anyone on Twitter, 115-111, 116-110 and 115-110. Bika came forward, and at times caught Stevenson on the ropes, hitting him with roughhousing shots and head butts (although not enough of either), and at one point in the 11th threw three straight slingshot right hands, two of which landed. But Bika stayed on the outside more often than not, unable to get out of the way of Stevenson’s left hand, and unable to do much damage, what with him being undersized and all.
Meanwhile, Stevenson was so much more athletic and, somehow, smarter than Bika that all he needed to do was paw with his jab and throw a left. To be fair, he would use it as an uppercut at times, or counter with it, or put it in Bika’s belly. But it was comically easy for him to land it at all, despite doing very little to set it up; he scored one legit knockdown in the 9th with that left, another non-legit one earlier and yet another earlier that maybe should’ve been scored a knockdown.
Stevenson is a one-dimensional fighter, to be sure — just never quite this one-dimensional. And all you need to know about the match-up is how easily he dominated Bika with that dimension. He also keeps showing a tendency to fade late, which would be trouble if he were to face Sergey Kovalev.
Speaking of: We said last month that Stevenson had to have watched Kovalev being troubled by Jean Pascal and see some cause for optimism. Likewise, watching Stevenson Saturday should give anyone cause for pessimism not only for whether he could win, but whether he’ll even do it. Malignaggi was good on analysis; that he kept talking up a meeting with Artur Beterbiev suggests that’s the direction he’s more likely to go, and that Stover never mentioned Kovalev’s name in the post-fight interview suggests the same. Once again, even with boxing back on network television, the sport finds a dark cloud to match to some silver lining or the other.
(Stevenson, pictured; Amanda Kwok, PBC on CBS)