|Saturday offered fans some good television|
Let's face it, it's great to have boxing back on Saturday afternoons. This is the sort of thing that, believe it or not, will bring back the sport from the margins. With all due respect to Floyd and Manny, they may only hold the general public's attention for a short period of time. A successful weekend sports program, however, can have a lasting effect.
Saturday afternoon's Premiere Boxing Champions card on CBS showed how it's done right. First and foremost, it had solid fights (at least on paper). What's more, it had a great team (Kevin Harlan, Paulie Malignaggi, Virgil Hunter) and good production values.
To the fights: Artur Beterbiev showed why he's a light heavyweight force to be reckoned with by destroying, and I mean destroying, crafty vet Gabriel Campillo within the first twelve minutes of their bout.
Here, folks, is someone to keep an eye on.
After replaying part of one of the card's untelevised bouts, it was time for the main event. Ignoring recent criticism, Adonis Stevenson came out with a red cape and posing like Christopher Reeve while John William's "Superman" theme blared across the Canadian auditorium. It was fun stuff,and was hopefully a taste of things to come.
Stevenson's opponent, the talented Sakio Bika, had moved up in weight for the bout and had expressed a great deal of confidence walking in. The first round was a feeling-out affair. Bika stayed in Stevenson's face, but Stevenson's punches were hard and thudding.
Bika nailed Stevenson with a left hook in the second, but Stevenson held strong. Yet Stevenson also appeared to be looking for the knockout at the expense of all else. He hurt Bika later in the round, but Bika was able to survive. It was a close one to call.
As the fight progressed, it was Stevenson's superior strength that told the tale. Simply put, Stevenson's punches were such that they allowed him to score more than his foe. Whereas Bika should have been moving in, Stevenson's power was able to keep him at bay.
Bika and Stevenson both went down in a tangled web in the fifth. It wasn't ruled a knockdown however, and Stevenson soon took to showboating - Anderson Silva style - while pounding at his man. Bika went down - maybe - at the end of the sixth. Things had clearly entered into a kind of pattern.
Or had they? The seventh ended with a solid Bika right. Was the tide about to turn?
No it wasn't. A savage shot put Bika on his rear three rounds later, in the ninth. Bika survived the round and indeed showed great heart by fight's end, but Stevenson was simply too strong and talented. He won a fair and square unanimous decision.
Is Stevenson too strong and talented for rival champ Sergey Kovalev, however? Thats a question fans want answered.
That's for another time, however. Right now CBS and PBC can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. For they delivered an impressive performance.