Dan Rafael: Jo Jo Dan

Showtime announced Thursday that its Dec. 19 card headlined by light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs), who will make his fourth title defense when he faces Dmitry Sukhotsky (22-2, 16 KOs) at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, will be a televised quadrupleheader.

The co-feature will involve super middleweight Andre Dirrell (23-1, 16 KOs) against an opponent to be determined.

Also, welterweights Jo Jo Dan (33-2, 18 KOs) and Kevin Bizier (23-1, 16 KOs) will meet in a rematch of Dan’s 2013 split-decision victory. The winner of the 12-round eliminator will become the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Kell Brook.

Opening the telecast will be light heavyweight sensation Artur Beterbiev (6-0, 6 KOs), a two-time Russian Olympian coming off a second-round destruction of former titlist Tavoris Cloud in September, against Jeff Page Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

Stevenson is coming off a surprisingly difficult decision win in May against Andrzej Fonfara, who survived two early knockdowns to drop Stevenson and close strong only to lose a decision. Stevenson was supposed to face Fonfara on HBO and then meet titleholder Sergey Kovalev this month to unify their titles. Instead, he bolted from HBO to Showtime, where he would face Fonfara in a tuneup fight before facing Bernard Hopkins to unify their belts.

But Stevenson’s team dragged their feet on making the Hopkins fight, so Hopkins surprised everyone by going back to HBO, where he will meet Kovalev on Saturday night.

Stevenson wound up with neither major fight and instead is facing the little-known and unaccomplished Sukhotsky. Still, Stevenson is the lineal champion and touted himself as the true world champion at 175 pounds.

“I know I'm the king of the light heavyweight division and I know that everyone wants to take my belt. I'm going to train very hard,” Stevenson said on Wednesday at the kickoff news conference in Montreal. “Sukhotsky is a tough guy and he’s hoping to surprise me. I'll prepare, my hands will be perfect and it will be a short night.”

Stevenson claimed that his less-than-stellar performance against Fonfara was due to a hand injury.

“My hand has healed from the injury when I fought Fonfara. I'm healthy and I'm ready to go,” he said. “Going 12 rounds was a good experience for me. I train for 12 rounds in the gym. Sometimes it’s good to go the distance and get the experience. Everybody brings their A-game because I'm the champ.”

Jo Jo Dan anxious for opportunity

December, 19, 2013
Jo Jo DanEd Diller/DiBella EntertainmentWelterweight Ionut "Jo Jo" Dan, who fights out of Montreal, is closing in on a world title shot.
Welterweight contender Ionut "Jo Jo" Dan scored an important win last month when he outpointed Quebec's Kevin Bizier on the Adonis Stevenson-Tony Bellew undercard in Quebec City.

It was an entertaining fight and one that should move Dan, who is from Romania but lives in Montreal, closer to a shot at a world title.

"I am back at the top level," said Dan, who handed Bizier his first defeat. "I am very satisfied with this win. Bizier was an undefeated [now 21-1, 14 KOs], highly ranked fighter, and I pulled out the decision in his backyard. My determination and experience were the difference in the fight."

Dan (32-2, 17 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw, was a standout amateur and has only lost a pair of decisions to Selcuk Aydin, both in Aydin's native Turkey. In their 2010 meeting, Dan lost a heavily disputed split decision. He lost a unanimous decision in the 2011 rematch that was very, very close.

Promoter Lou DiBella said he will push for a bigger fight for Dan.

"Jo Jo Dan has clearly established himself as one of the best welterweights in the world and proven that he is championship material. It is time for him to get his opportunity," DiBella said. "I hope that everyone who hasn't already seen his fight with Bizier gets a chance to watch it and see for themselves what kind of warrior Jo Jo Dan truly is."

The win was Dan's third in a row since the second loss to Aydin.

"Maybe, down the road, we can do this fight [with Bizier] again, but next time with a world title at stake and main event status," said Chris Ganescu, Dan's manager. "In the meantime, we are looking for the biggest fights possible and trust that our promoter, Lou DiBella, will get us those opportunities. When those opportunities present themselves, Jo Jo Dan will be ready to make the most of it."

Dan is highly ranked across the board in the various sanctioning bodies.

"I just want my shot," Dan said. "I proved and solidified [against Bizier] what my team and I have felt for a very long time, that I am one of the best 147-pound fighters in the world. I deserve a shot at a piece of the welterweight crown. I don't care who it is."