ADONIS Stevenson should probably save all his energy and focus for Badou Jack, his next opponent, right about now, but a former opponent, Tony Bellew, has an uncanny way of getting under the skin of even those who have previously defeated him.
Although Stevenson dropped and stopped Bellew in 2013, during the Liverpudlian’s weight-drained light-heavyweight days, he has since watched ‘The Bomber’ reinvent himself and rise to prominence, first as a cruiserweight, then as David Haye’s bogeyman, and was recently asked about the prospect of a future rematch.
“Tony Bellew needs to get a rematch because when I lost the first thing I knew I would do is get a rematch and knock him out – and I did,” Stevenson told Sky Sports, speaking about his shock TKO loss to journeyman Darnell Boone back in 2010, avenged with a sixth round stoppage three years later.
“You have to fight again the guy who knocked you out – except if it’s me! If I fight Bellew again, I’m going to knock him out again. It would be exciting, though.”
Never one to let a man throw a verbal jab without a response, it didn’t take long for Bellew to get wind of Stevenson’s digs, nor his suggestion they should do the rematch at a catchweight, and return fire in his own inimitable way.
“If he says he’ll do it at catchweight, he’s just trying to drag me back down in weight again, isn’t he?” Bellew told Sky Sports.
“But of course it’s interesting. I’d love to spank him. I look at him as the only man who ever truly defeated me. It definitely appeals.
“It (the defeat) still haunts me to this day but he would never fight me at cruiserweight. I can’t go any lower than cruiserweight. It’s impossible. And I am telling you now, if he did come close to cruiserweight, I would put him to sleep.
“And I would put him to sleep far quicker than he put me down. I wouldn’t mess around.”
Two things have happened since Stevenson knocked out Bellew first time around. Both have gotten older, although Stevenson, at 40, would be feeling the impact more at this point, and Bellew, now a makeshift heavyweight, has gotten bigger and better.
Whether these two things have any bearing on a rematch remains to be seen. But what’s clear is that Adonis Stevenson, the current WBC light-heavyweight champion, needs to forget all about Bellew and focus instead on Badou, the former super-middleweight champion with whom he will lock horns in Toronto in five days’ time.
There’s a good chance world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be a WBA mandatory defence against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, and an equally good chance he might make his American debut against the undefeated Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller. The frontrunner, though, if reports and promoters are to be believed, is a unification scrap – the one the world wants – against WBC champion Deontay Wilder either in September or November, depending on the location.
The fight they said would never happen – at least this year – seems to be gathering pace, much to the delight of those eager to see it, and Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has dropped some of the strongest hints yet that it could be next.
“I was just on the phone to him (Joshua) a minute ago and we’re meeting up this week,” Hearn told talkSPORT’s Fight Night podcast.
“We have to start making some decisions. We know the fights that are on the table.
“Conversations are ongoing with Wilder. AJ really wants to fight in the UK next but obviously it is a big opportunity to fight Wilder in America and it is something we are considering strongly.
“It’s just a case of taking our time and making the right decisions. We know we have got a great opportunity to try and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and he would love to do it in the UK. But we have had an offer that is of interest to us.
“We have to explore it more, which we have been doing over the last week or so. The communication is back-and-forth, which is good news.
“We are talking regularly, they are answering our questions now, and I’m hopeful that fight can get over the line.
“If it’s in the UK, it will be in September. If it is in Vegas or New York, it will probably be more like November.
“I think it will be his next one.”
Following the news that Matchroom Boxing have secured a staggering $1 billion deal with DAZN for 16 US-based shows, it should come as no surprise that Joshua vs. Wilder is now hurtling towards completion. What’s more, Joshua, in beating Joseph Parker in March, now has three of the four major world heavyweight titles and Wilder, in knocking out Luis Ortiz in dramatic style, seems more than ready for the litmus test his critics have long said he’s avoided.
In boxing’s version of stick, twist or bust, there’s always the risk you wait too long – let it ‘marinate’ for longer than necessary – and lose everything you once stood to gain. And given all that’s at stake with this one, financially, that’s a gamble neither heavyweight champion, much less their respective promotional teams, can afford to take.
Common sense, it would seem, is beginning to prevail.