Going into the HBO co-main event between Adonis Stevenson (22-1, 19 knockouts) and Tavoris Cloud (24-2, 19 knockouts), it was hard not to get excited of the chances that the fight would turn into more of a brawl between the two punchers. With Stevenson coming off his one round decimation of Chad Dawson (31-3, 17 knockouts), and Cloud coming off a loss to Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts), both men came into this fight with a lot to prove as far as their standing amongst the elite in the division goes.
From the opening bell, and the duration of the bout, it was clear that Cloud was rather tentative as far as letting his hands go. Regardless of whether it was a slow start or nerves catching up to him, Stevenson took full advantage and wasted no time in battering the former champion. Stevenson’s confidence going into the bout was something of note, but during the fight it only grew. This was especially obvious as early as the second roud when he already began his showboating antics in hopes of taunting Cloud to attack.
Nothing seemed to work for Cloud however, and round-after-round saw Stevenson rips shots along the body and head of Cloud while Cloud didn’t manage to land much of his own. As the fight progressed, Stevenson’s gameplan began to evoke images of Bernard Hopkins’ victory against the then heavily hyped Cloud. Stevenson was not only out-punching Cloud, but his use of movement to out-smart and frustrate his opponent was all one needed to see that Stevenson’s skill set involved much more than simply separating one from their senses.
As the fight wore on, Stevenson’s confidence in not only himself and his skills was brimming while Cloud could only grow frustrated at the fact that the fight had slipped his grasp and the fact that he was suffering from two badly cut eyes. It was clear that Cloud wasn’t quite sure how to deal with an opponent like Stevenson, and this prompted his corner to call to an end to the fight after the 7th round.
Stevenson undoubtedly silenced many of his critics with his performance Saturday night. Showcasing legitimate boxing skills on top of already vicious punching power, the 36-year old Stevenson may prove to be the best fighter in the 175-lb. division. Following his victory, fans have already called for a match-up between Stevenson and the division’s boogieman, Sergey Kovalev 22-0-1, 20 knockouts). Although a matchmaker’s dream at this point, Stevenson only stoked the fans’ fire after making comments that he’d be looking forward to that match-up.
As for Cloud, he’s hit on a bit of a rough streak lately. Aside from his controversial “win” over Gabriel Campillo (22-6-1, 9 knockouts), Cloud has gone winless in a year. With all the hype that once surrounded him gone, it’s going to be hard to build hi image up after such thorough and dominant losses. Still, one can’t help but hope that a change of scenery can do big things for the former champion. Let’s just hope he realizes that as well.