By Dave Spencer
Photos Herby Whyne
It took only :76 seconds and a single left hand to make 35 year-old Adonis "Superman" Stevenson an overnight sensation and new WBC light-heavyweight champion, capturing the title in spectacular fashion from Chad Dawson Saturday night in Montreal.
It was the quickest title victory in the light heavyweight division since Bobby Czyz took just 1:01 in an IBF title defence in 1986 and propels Stevenson past local rivals and former champions Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute and makes the local scene very interesting with southpaw's ascension to the world stage.
The Montreal fighter who moved up from 168 pounds for the fight didn't waste any time in calling out the name of Bernard Hopkins when asked who her wanted next in what has been a devastating path of destruction to the top. "I've never seen anything as intense as this," said Stevenson's trainer Javan Hill after the contest, commenting on both the fighter and crowds reaction on the dramatic and sudden finish. "With Adonis doing it at home and winning a world championship, at home in front of his hometown friends, family and the city of Montreal...it was the most excitement that I have been around."
"It was definitely something that we saw," said Hill of the heat seeking missile that put Dawson onto his back and unable to recover. "It was one of Adonis's best punches of the training camp. That was the most dangerous punches that he had out of his arsenal, the rest of which we didn't get a chance to see...the first one he chose did the job."
Hill talked of a fighter that was far from a one-dimensional power punching machine that the Dawson camp was expecting. "His boxing IQ is off the charts. He had a 150 or 160 IQ of boxing in there tonight, this whole camp he has been growing, That's why I'm so excited about his next outing and the one after so people will get to see what a great boxer Adonis really is and not just a power puncher because people just think he's a hard hitter.
"Chad kept saying, 'You gotta hit the target, you gotta hit the target,' he showed that tonight, he showed his speed. I thought he was faster than Chad and the arm length was no big deal. Adonis has long arms, I guess they didn't know that. He was stumbling and Adonis was right back to him real fast and put that pressure back on. "
Stevenson concurred with his mentor, "You have to develop your ability to box, it's good that you have power, but it's important that you can box too. I just threw the punch and that's it, I knocked him out, it's natural."
Hill inherited Stevenson from legend Emanuel Steward after the Hall of Fame trainer's untimely passing and it was always the excitement that Stevenson brought to the ring that the Kronk Gym head always talked about. "He brings excitement to boxing," Steward would always say of his fighter with a penchant for ending things early. "He's not one of these guys just trying to win a decision and take very little risk, he is what we need for our sport."
Certainly the spirit of Steward was smiling down Saturday and he was fully acknowledged as the 43 world champions are now being added to by those still wearing the vibrant red and gold colours. "Emanuel taught me everything I know," said Hill acknowledging his mentor. "The way it was done, was the way he would have done it, that's where I learned it from. I'm sure he's proud, 100%."
Dawson did make it to his feet, but despite his initial protests, there was little doubt of stopping the contest. Referee Michael Griffin told Fightnews, "The knockdown was early, I wanted to give him every chance I could. When he was on his feet I asked him if he was okay and he didn't respond. He took a while, he didn't have his legs and he was leaning on the ropes, with a puncher like Stevenson, it was just too dangerous to let him go."
Dawson's promoter Gary Shaw didn't object to the stoppage. "Michael Griffin did a real good job," said Shaw, "He either beat the count by milli-second or he didn't beat it. Adonis can really can punch.
"This isn't something you just go back to the dressing room and start talking about your next fight. He's got to get his head together and gather his thoughts. He'll have to decide his fate as to whether or not he'll continue or not continue."