Adonis Stevenson successfully defended his WBC light heavyweight title by beating veteran Dmitry Sukhotsky Friday in Quebec, Canada. Stevenson (25-1-0, 21 KO) dropped Sukhotsky four times on his way to a brutal fifth-round stoppage.
Sukhotsky (22-3, 16 KOs) stalked Stevenson around the ring for the length of the encounter, trying to land his jab and attempting to bridge the gap. However, Stevenson’s counter-punching, long jab, and trademark punching power were too much for the robotic Russian to overcome and he was never able to get off against the champ.
Stevenson exercised patience, control, and excellent footwork to pace the fight to his liking and shut down his opponent’s offense by countering virtually every punch Sukhotsky threw.
Stevenson out-landed Sukhotsky 80 punches to 23.
Tonight’s contest marked Stevenson’s fourth title defense after lifting the belt from Chad Dawson in 2013 with a spectacular one-punch knockout just 76 seconds into the fight.
Stevenson was coming off a unanimous decision win over Andrzej Fonfara in May. Prior to that, Stevenson had earned his 20th career stoppage with a sixth-round TKO over Brit Tony Bellow.
Sukhotsky has built a career of beating inconsistent and low-level opposition by fighting almost solely out of his native Russian.
His first career defeat came at the hands of WBO light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer in 2009. In 2011 Sukhotsky reached a career milestone by defeating Nadjib Mohammedi with a second-round TKO, only to be out-pointed in his next fight against Cornelius White.
Friday’s fight got off to a slow start, as the two fighters tested each other and vied for openings. Sukhotsky pushed forward, as Stevenson circled him clockwise and judged the distance.
The second round started much like the first, with few punches being thrown and Stevenson circling around Sukhotsky. The slow action drew boo’s from the fans, and Stevenson answered by dropping Sukhotsky to the canvas with a straight left and a shove.
Stevenson picked up the pace going into the third round, and started finding a home for his left hand. Sukhotsky kept pressing, but he could not close the distance enough to reach Stevenson.
In the fourth round Stevenson kept working the jab and started targeting the body. Sukhotsky began missing his punches and Stevenson was taking control of the action.
In the fifth round, Stevenson picked up the pace even more and continued to work the jab and land left hand bombs to the head. Sukhotsky went down a second time in the fight one minute into the fifth round, courtesy of a straight left hand from the champ. Seconds later, a combination dropped Sukhotsky for a third time.
Stevenson smelled blood and unloaded on the staggered challenger, scoring one more knockdown before referee Michael Griffin waved off the fight.
For Stevenson, tonight’s victory may not go far in quieting boxing observers who criticize his past subpar opposition, but it puts him in position for a world-title unification shot against the winner of the March 14 showdown between Jean Pascal and WBO, WBA, and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.
“They have to come to me, I’m the big champion,” Stevenson told Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight.”They have to come to me because I’m the Ring Magazine [champion]; I beat the man; I am the man of the heavy weights.”
The loss for Sukhotsky will likely send him back to the motherland to continue his journeyman career fighting against Russian cab-drivers and truckers.
On the undercard, Jo Jo Dan overcame early gains from Kevin Bizier to squeak by with a split decision; a south-pawed Andre Dirrell whipped an over-matched Derek Edwards on his way to a unanimous decision win; Artur Beterbiev beat Jeff Page with a second-round stoppage.
Live updates (scores are not official):
Round 1: Sukhotsky wears black trunks; Stevenson wears yellow and fights from a southpaw stance. Sukhotsky comes out pawing with his jab. Stevenson walking backwards, observing. Minute in, Steven swings with big left, misses. Slow goings. Sukhotsky lands right hand. Stevenson with jab to the body. Minute in, Stevenson circling counter clockwise. Big left from Stevenson misses. Right from Sukhotsky lands. Feeling-out round. 10-9 Sukhotsky
Round 2: Sukhotsky pushing forward. Stevenson working the jab, turning counter-clockwise. Sukhotsky misses string of punches. Minute in, Stevenson looking for openings. Low action receives boo’s from audience. Stevenson with combination, but doesn’t land. Stevenson working right jab. Left hand and push drops Sukhotsky with 30 seconds left. 19-18 Stevenson
Round 3: Stevenson comes out picking up the pace. Stevenson jabbing, now circling clockwise. Sukhotsky lands a combination. Left from Stevenson. Halfway in, Sukhotsky misses a right hand and gets countered. Left from Stevenson lands. Minute left, Stevenson moving well, lands left hand. Left to head, then body form Stevenson. Sukhotsky unable to bridge the distance or get off. 29-27 Stevenson
Round 4: Stevenson pawing, Sukhotsky pressing and waving his left in front of him. Left from Stevenson. Left to body by Stevenson. Minute in, Sukhotsky misses with two jabs. Stevenson right hook. Stevenson staying away, using the ring. Sukhotsky eats a left. Minute left, Sukhotsky lands a left. They exchange, but neither land. Stevenson lands a jab to the body. Left hand from Stevenson closes the round. 39-36 Stevenson
Round 5: Stevenson jabbing, Sukhotsky continues to press. Left from Stevenson lands. 2-1 combo from Stevenson. Left from Stevenson drops Sukhotsky. Halfway, Sukhotsky goes down again. Stevenson looking to close this. Repeated lefts from Stevenson. Minute left, Sukhotsky doing his best to survive. Sukhotsky eats hard 1-2. Sukhotsky taking punishment. Dropped for good with left hand. KO for superman.