'12 Days': Stevenson-Kovalev
December, 23, 2013
By Eric Raskin | Special to ESPN.com
The clichéd "irresistible force versus immovable object" paradox makes for a pretty darned good stylistic showdown in the boxing ring. But it's second-best in terms of excitement to when the irresistible force meets another irresistible force.
The truth is, we don't really know how immovable either lineal light heavyweight champion of the world Adonis Stevenson or unofficial "baddest man" in the division Sergey Kovalev are. Kovalev has yet to have his chin and will properly tested. Stevenson lost by knockout once 3½ years ago, but that feels like ancient and irrelevant history -- and like Kovalev, he hasn't had to show his mettle much since. Stevenson and Kovalev are both destroyers, guys who bulldoze whatever you put in front of them. We don't know if they can take as well as they can give.
But good lord, can they both give it.
Stevenson boasts 20 knockouts among his 23 wins -- 10 of them coming in the opening round. He has won 10 straight, all by stoppage, since that 2010 loss (since avenged) to Darnell Boone. Kovalev has 21 knockouts in 23 wins, 15 of them coming in the first two rounds. He has never had to go beyond the eighth round (interestingly, it was Boone who took him the full eight back in 2010).
Stevenson-Kovalev would be irresistible force versus irresistible force, two heat-seeking missiles pointed directly at each other and released. Combustion is guaranteed -- and whoever emerges from the flaming wreckage is the universally recognized king of the 175-pound division.
And the best part is, there are no network rivalries or promotional entanglements to prevent this fight from happening. The only thing standing in the way of Stevenson-Kovalev, it would seem, is Stevenson's preference for one or two more defenses first that offer him a more favorable risk-reward ratio.
When they shared an HBO card in Quebec on Nov. 30 and Kovalev was asked who he wanted next, he declared simply, "Adonis." As a mere beltholder and not the true champion, it's obvious why he is so motivated to make the fight.
But when Stevenson was asked the same question, he tap-danced around Kovalev's name, instead calling out Carl Froch and Bernard Hopkins. Hey, we get it. Hopkins is still a household name who brings money to the table. Froch is a more established fighter than Kovalev, and he happens to be a weight class smaller and coming off a shaky performance. Neither of them is half the knockout threat at 175 that Kovalev is. So it's understandable why the "Krusher" from Russia wouldn't be Stevenson's first choice.
But he's undoubtedly the first choice of fight fans. This is the matchup that needs to happen, two of boxing's best pound-for-pound punchers, coming off breakthrough years, determining in an all-offense fight who rules the division.
It's irresistible force versus irresistible force, making for an irresistible attraction for boxing fans.