- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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A hand injury to super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson has forced him out of this week's ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" season finale against Donovan George, and he was replaced by Dionisio Miranda on Monday.
Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs), the power hitter from Quebec, was supposed to face George (22-2-1, 19 KOs), of Chicago, in a world title elimination bout with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger for England's Carl Froch.
However, Stevenson injured his left hand during a sparring session last Friday and was forced to pull out on doctor's advice on Monday. Assuming George defeats Miranda, Stevenson-George will be rescheduled for October.
"Adonis Stevenson injured his left hand in sparring last Friday. The next day he went to see a doctor, who diagnosed a severe bruise and major swelling," said Yvon Michel, Stevenson's promoter. "Adonis was not able to close his hand and make a fist. Treatments were done in hopes of improvement but there was not enough progress and under the doctor's advice it was decided to pull Adonis out of his fight."
Stevenson's injury is just the latest setback for the fight with George. The bout was originally scheduled to take place Aug. 11 at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Showtime on the undercard of the Tavoris Cloud-Jean Pascal light heavyweight title bout. However, Pascal suffered a right hand injury last month, forcing the card to be postponed until at least the fall.
When Showtime could not come up with a new date this summer to reschedule Stevenson-George, ESPN, which had coincidentally lost its original Aug. 17 card due to injury, made a deal for the fight. George co-promoter Leon Margules tried to bring the fight to Chicago, but an obscure rule that would not allow the fight to be set up there with less than three weeks' notice forced the fight to move again. Margules was able to work out a deal with Oklahoma promoter Tony Holden to place it at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla.
Friday's card is still a go but with a revamped lineup. The original co-feature -- a scheduled 10-round bout between junior middleweight contender Carlos Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs) of Chicago against Damian Frias (19-4-1, 10 KOs) of Miami -- will move into the main event position.
George-Miranda, a scheduled 10-rounder rather than the 12-rounder Stevenson-George would have been, will open the show.
"Team Stevenson and GYM (Michel's company) are very disappointed for all the inconvenience this situation has created for ESPN and their programming director, Doug Loughrey, to Warriors Boxing and their president, Leon Margules, and to Tony Holden and the Buffalo Run Casino," Michel said. "Everyone was so cooperative to make this fight happen -- our partners in Canada who were diligently working to program and sell this fight on pay-per-view on short notice, and also to Team George, who has carefully prepared for this important encounter. We wish him good luck on Friday."
Margules said at least everyone involved was able to make a solid fight for George on short notice and still put on a quality card.
"Donovan is obviously disappointed by this, but we all know these things happen in boxing," Margules said. "We wish Adonis Stevenson a speedy recovery. But what we still have in this event is a compelling junior middleweight fight between two top-tier guys with reputations for pulling off upsets and we've got Donovan George against a Columbian slugger with a difficult style to figure out. So, as sad as we all are about what happened, we still have a good challenge in front of us this Friday and we'll be ready."
During the uncertainty of whether the fight would be rescheduled or he would get a new opponent, George continued to train and remained positive.
"It's in the hands of the big shots now," he said earlier Monday. "All I can do is continue to focus and train. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and pray for the best."
Miranda (21-7-2, 18 KOs), 30, a native of Colombia based in Miami, Fla., is just 3-5 in his last eight bouts and is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Avtandil Khurtsidze in Ukraine in June. But Miranda has also faced several notable opponents. In his recent stretch he has lost to middleweight contender "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin, former middleweight title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo and former junior middleweight titlist and longtime middleweight contender Roman Karmazin. But also in the stretch, Miranda owns wins against Canadian contender Sebastian Demers and former middleweight title challenger Lajuan Simon.
The 27-year-old George (22-2-1, 19 KOs) is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision loss to undefeated top prospect Edwin Rodriguez on March 17.
A hand injury to super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson has forced him out of this week's ESPN2 FNF season finale against Donovan George, and he was replaced by Dionisio Miranda on Monday.