Adonis Stevenson fades down the stretch, but retains title via majority draw with Badou Jack

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (R) and challenger Badou Jack maneuver for position during their majority draw Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. (Canadian Press/Photostream)

Badou Jack’s plan to start slowly and wear down WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in their title bout Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto clearly worked. By the seventh round, the champion was obviously winded as Jack made his move.

Jack, though, left the ring with an unsatisfying majority draw in a bout that was there for him to win. He was left to ponder whether he’d started his assault too late. He fell behind early as he was largely inactive, but he didn’t begin his comeback soon enough.

Both fighters thought they’d won, and the 40-year-old Stevenson said he was agreeable to a rematch to settle any doubt.

Judge Jesse Reyes saw the fight 115-113 for Jack, but he was overruled by judges Guido Cavallieri and Eric Marlinski, each of whom had it 114-114. Yahoo Sports also scored the bout a draw, 114-114.

“I thought I definitely won the fight,” Jack said. “I definitely won the fight. Nobody is complaining and no judge had him winning.”

Stevenson kept the title on the draw, which is the champion’s edge. Stevenson hurt Jack with a body shot in the 10th, and Jack seemed briefly in trouble. Stevenson unloaded an assault, but he was tired and spent the second half of the round fending off Jack.

He felt his body work was a major difference in the bout, which was televised as part of a split site doubleheader on Showtime along with a WBC featherweight title fight between Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr. at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.

“Definitely I won the fight because I hurt him in the body,” Stevenson said. “I hurt him in the body and he slowed down, and I kept on pressuring him. He was moving [and was] slick, but I touched him more times and I think I won the fight.”

In the televised opener, Russell outhustled Diaz in an entertaining bout to win a unanimous decision. Judges Dave Moretti and Nathan Palmer scored it 117-111 for Russell, while David Braslow saw it 115-113 for Russell. Yahoo Sports had Russell winning 116-112, or eight rounds to four.

Russell threw a high volume of punches that led to the victory.

“We had to keep the stick in his face,” Russell said. “We knew he would be very, very flat-footed. He needed to be close and wanted to close the distance to get to what he wanted to do, so I kept my jab in his face.”

Gary Russell Jr., (R) battles Joseph Diaz Jr. during their WBC featherweight title fight in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, May 19, 2018. Russell won by unanimous decision. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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