PREVIEWS

Age­ing Steven­son has it all to do to re­tain lightheavy­weight throne, writes De­clan Tay­lor

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Ado­nis Steven­son puts his WBC light-heavy­weight ti­tle on the line

WITH MUCH of the box­ing world’s fo­cus on the Los An­ge­les show­down be­tween Deon­tay Wilder and Tyson Fury, what could be one of 2018’s most ex­plo­sive bat­tles has gone to­tally un­der the radar.

Some 5,000km north east of the Sta­ples Cen­ter, Ado­nis Steven­son puts his WBC light-heavy­weight ti­tle on the line against his manda­tory chal­lenger Olek­sandr

“The Nail” Gvozdyk at Que­bec’s Cen­tre Videotron, live on Show­time in a De­cem­ber 1 bout which will act as a starter to the heavy­weight bat­tle.

And as far as box­ing Hors d’oeu­vre go, they don’t re­ally get more ap­petis­ing than two big-hit­ting, top-five lightheavy­weights tan­gling for a ma­jor ti­tle.

Wilder might just be the big­gest one-punch man in box­ing to­day but nei­ther Steven­son or Gvozdyk are far be­hind. They say power is the last thing to aban­don an age­ing fighter, which is why 41-year-old “Su­per­man” Steven­son re­mains an im­por­tant player at 175lbs.

But, in what will be his first bout since draw­ing with Badou Jack in May, Steven­son must quell an op­po­nent who looks ca­pa­ble of emerg­ing as the No. 1 in ar­guably the most ex­cit­ing divi­sion in the sport right now.

Gvozdyk, 31, has marched to 15-0 with 12 quick, as a re­sult of a pa­tient, me­thod­i­cal style punc­tu­ated by dy­na­mite in both hands. He is a fighter blessed with that fright­en­ing, ca­sual power which he ap­pears to gen­er­ate with­out try­ing.

He joins the likes of Va­syl Lo­machenko and Olek­sandr Usyk as yet an­other world class Ukrainian cur­rently man­aged by Egis Kli­mas, who put his fighter to­gether with trainer Teddy At­las. You would have strug­gled to find a more awk­ward first as­sign­ment than Steven­son, who knows how to stay out of trou­ble in his south­paw stance while whip­ping in hor­ri­ble left hands over the top.

Some­times, two big punch­ers like this can com­bine to can­cel out each other’s power and, although a dis­tance fight may seem un­likely here, it might just help wily old Steven­son if it is. The Que­bec man, fight­ing on home soil, might know too much to al­low Gvozdyk any op­por­tu­nity to see him off. Steven­son will know de­feat here might just spell the end of him so a de­ci­sion win for the home favourite could be a smart bet.

Photo: ES­THER LIN/SHOW­TIME

MUST WIN: If Steven­son loses he might never re­claim his world ti­tle

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