Frontline Diary: Superman Stevenson shrugs off Kryptonite
The mood amongst supporters of Tommy Karpency was jovial as the main event started in Toronto. They cheered loudly as his name was announced, blowing kisses and waving.
It didn’t take long for the cheers to turn to tears.
Premier Boxing Champions hosted their first event in Toronto on Friday night, and the first world championship fight in the city since 1984. Lineal light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson did what many expected he would be able to do, dismantling Karpency in the third round thanks to his explosive power.
Things went well for Karpency in the early stages, as he landed his best punch of the fight midway through the first round. When the 29-year-old from Adah, Pennsylvania, got over aggressive, the patented left hand of Stevenson crashed home, wobbling Karpency as the round ended.
The second round saw much of the same. A pensive Karpency was slow to engage and a late flurry from Stevenson put him down hard. As the third frame opened, it was clear that Stevenson would be able to finish, and did so 21 seconds later.
Karpency adopted the nickname ‘Kryptonite’ heading into the fight, an attempt to get inside ‘Superman’ Stevenson’s head. The strategy did little to deter the champion.
“He tried, I expected that,” Stevenson said in a tone that was more comical than it was intended to be. “But Kryptonite lost tonight.”
It didn’t take long for the topic of conversation to turn to a potential title unification bout between Stevenson and Kovalev. The two fighters rose to prominence throughout 2013 and 2014, and have seemed to be on a collision course.
Negotiations have continuously broken down between the two sides, Stevenson being signed to Showtime and Kovalev signed to HBO, despite both fighters claiming to be interested in the bout.
“Kovalev, you are easy work,” Stevenson said in his post-fight interview. “It’s time now to unify the titles. I want to win the unified title.”
In the co-main event, rising welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr. dominated Chris Van Heerden in a one-sided bout. With the win, Spence continued to climb the ladder towards a top-level star in boxing’s most talent-filled division.
Van Heerden was tough, if nothing else. He took plenty of hard punches from Spence, shuffling and jiving with the punches to the entertainment of the crowd, but by the eighth round he was a broken down fighter. Hard punches by Spence had swollen Van Heerden’s face and after a second third knockdown, the referee had seen enough.
The win moves Spence’s record to 18-0 with 15 knockouts
In undercard action, 51-year-old Donovan “Razor” Ruddock tried to make his Rocky-like comeback to capture the Canadian heavyweight title. Unfortunately, Dillon Carman had other plans.
The sloppy abomination of a fight left a lot to be desired by onlookers as both fighters struggled to perform. Ruddock would come forward in bursts as he could muster the energy, and Carman established a slightly more steady attack. By the third round, after a second knockdown, the referee mercifully stopped the bout.
The crowd was sparse throughout the night, likely the sign of a new fight market adjusting to its new sport. Boxing has been a rare sight in English-speaking Canada, specifically Toronto, over the past few decades. Promoters for the event suggest that they will bring high-profile cards to the area four times a year in an attempt a new market of fight fans.
With Toronto being Canada’s largest city, there is potential for the PBC and boxing to establish itself as a prominent sport in the city, along with hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball.