They call the boxing ring “The Chamber of Truth” for its ability to reveal the true character of those who step within its confines.
Everyone knew that super middleweights Adonis Stevenson and Donovan George could punch. But nobody knew what would happen the first time two of the division’s biggest punchers landed and their opponent didn’t go away.
The answer came in the form of a terrific brawl, culminating in a 12th round TKO victory for Stevenson.
In all, the Haitian-born Canadian dropped George five times, beginning with a pair of hard left hands to the body in the fifth round. George winced in pain both times and looked as though he would be stopped, but somehow landed a haymaker right hand that buzzed Stevenson.
“Obviously, anybody in their right mind wouldn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to get up, but I knew that I’d be a quitter, and I’m not a quitter,” said George of the knockdowns. “He hurt me really bad to the body and my ribs are probably broken or severely bruised. My Mom was here, my fiancee, my best friends, my Dad. I can’t quit in front of those people.”
It was a miraculous burst of energy that nearly produced an all-time rally-from-behind moment, but Stevenson made it to the bell.
While George (23-3-1, 20 knockouts) wouldn’t complete the comeback, at no point did he stop trying. Perhaps due to the spectacular showing in the fifth, there was a constant feeling throughout the fight that he could pull off something special.
It became more probable in the ninth round, as the southpaw Stevenson revealed to his corner that he had hurt his left hand. Trainer Javon “Sugar” Hill (taking the lead with Emanuel Steward still in Detroit recovering from stomach surgery) told him to get more active with his right hand and remain on the perimeter with the help of his jab.
In doing so, Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs) displayed boxing ability not previously seen from him, however he took the more recognizable approach in the final round.
“I wanted to close the show, I wanted to finish it,” said Stevenson.
Even Hill got caught up in the drama of the fight and let his fighter off the leash instead of protecting his hand.
“He’s learned how to box and control fights,” said Hill, who has worked with Stevenson since he moved camp to Motown last year. “We like knockouts. It’s exciting, it’s what sells, and that’s what the Kronk Gym is famous for.”
Stevenson started the 12th round waving his injured left hand in the air, as if he, too, had recuperative powers generated out of sheer will. Immediately he began launching power shots, overwhelming his still tender opponent, and dropping him twice in the opening minute before referee Marlon B. Wright waved it off at 0:55.
“Adonis proved that he’s a complete fighter, a 12-round fighter. One who is dangerous from the first round until the last,” said promoter Yvon Michel of his charge.
With the victory, Stevenson becomes the mandatory challenger for IBF titlist Carl Froch, who is already committed to face Yusaf Mack on Nov. 17, and tentatively to rematch Lucien Bute next March. Michel said earlier in the week that they would consider not pressing the mandatory issue if they are assured that their fighter will get the winner of Froch-Bute II.
“Carl Froch or Andre Ward. I don’t have a first choice. Either one, I don’t have a problem,” said Stevenson of his preference over his next opponent.
The future is a little cloudier for George, who suffers his third loss, all three on American TV (the fight was carried on WealthTV). He’s not likely to drop out of the IBF rankings entirely after a loss to Stevenson, though, and his courageous effort may have boosted his stock.
Due to the one-sided nature of the fight, it’s not likely to win Fight of the Year, but the sheer drama it produced for the fans might get it on the ballot.
The Chicagoan was very emotional after the fight, breaking down in the ring as his opponent told him he was “a f___ing warrior.”
But by the time he was leaving the press room, he displayed a rare honesty after the most honest of efforts.
“When I decided to go pro, I never said I was going to be undefeated champion of the world. I knew that with my style, there would be nights that just wouldn’t be my night, because I come forward, I have zero defense and I come to fight,” admits George.
That’s all anyone could ever ask.
Follow Corey Erdman on Twitter @corey_erdman