Man and Superman: Stevenson Decisions Bika

By Robert Ecksel on April 4, 2015
Man and Superman: Stevenson Decisions Bika
Talk is cheap, especially with Kovalev waiting in the wings. (Amanda Kwok/PBC on CBS)

Adonis Stevenson successfully defended his WBC light heavyweight title by decisioning Sakio Bika by scores of 115-111, 116-110, and 115-110…

Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada, WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (26-1, 21 KOs), from Laval, Quebec, Canada, by way of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, successfully defended his title by decisioning Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika (32-7-3, 21 KOs), from Sydney, Australia, by way of Douala, Cameroon, by scores of 115-111, 116-110, and 115-110 after 12 one-sided rounds.

Fighting out of the blue corner in Kronk gold, the southpaw Stevenson was the heavy betting favorite going in. With exception of a fluke loss to Darnell Boone in 2010 that was later avenged, Superman has pretty much dominated everyone he has faced. The problem is that the Man of Steel has yet to face the crème de la crème of the light heavyweight division. He did fight and defeat Andrzej Fonfara, who is ranked number four by the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, a year ago. But fights with Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, and Sergey Kovalev have failed to materialize.

Sakio Bika, fighting out of the red corner in yellow trunks with black trim, is a credible opponent, but few believed he had what it takes to dethrone a current champion. Those who have seen Bika fight, and haven’t turned away in dismay, are aware of his gifts and limitations. On the plus side, he is a rugged veteran who has never been kayoed and knows how to take a fight the distance. On the negative side, he’s an ugly fighter who is willing to resort to whatever he thinks can get away with without being disqualified.

Those characteristics, or character defects, were the challenges facing Stevenson this afternoon. Could he avoid Bika’s head, which has proven as effective as either of his fists? Could he defuse Bika’s mauling, brawling, uncouth lack of style by keeping him at the end of his punches? And lastly, could Superman stop the seemingly unstoppable force of nature from Down Under by cracking him unmercifully on the chin?

Round one was a feeling out round for both fighters. Stevenson landed a right jab to the body. Bika connected with a right. In the first of many clinches, Bika laced Stevenson across the face with his gloves. Stevenson’s timing was superb and he countered Bika with a straight left. Bika landed a rabbit punch to the back of the champion’s head to the end the round.

Bika landed a hook to start the second. Stevenson connected with another shot to the body, followed by a curious overhand right to the head. His jab is more a rangefinder than a power jab whose sole purpose seems to set up the straight left hand. At 30 seconds the left shook Bika. Ten seconds later the same punch shook him again. Bika’s inability to anticipate the only significant punch in Stevenson’s arsenal speaks volumes about his limitations as a fighter.

The third was a somewhat better round for Bika. He was still avoiding Stevenson’s right jab only to get nailed with the left, but Bika managed to land a couple jabs of his own in addition to a straight right. The clinching continued. Bika knew that he could fight Stevenson on the outside, just as Stevenson knew that he couldn’t fight Bika on the inside, which made for an untidy affair for much of the round. But Stevenson landed another straight left at the bell for good measure.

Less than 30 seconds into round four Stevenson landed a double jab followed by two straights lefts to the challenger’s head. Bika continued to try to get in close, but Stevenson kept him at the end of his punches, serving knuckle punches at a prix fixe. The champ landed a rare left uppercut. He also connected with another straight left.

Stevenson dropped Bika for the first time in round five. A series of right jabs surprised the challenger and stunned him. A big left put him down. The ref ruled it a slip, perhaps incorrectly, giving Bika a chance to resume fighting and resume to getting clobbered. Two more lefts found their mark. Stevenson was in total control. With or without the knockdown, it still could have been scored 10-8 for the champ.

Bika went down a second time in the sixth. Stevenson commenced hostilities with a trifecta of straight left hands. Bika countered with a right, followed by two lefts. The challenger appeared to be making a move, but the move he was making was downward as Superman connected with another left hand that dropped Bika with less than a minute left in the round. Bika got to his feet where another left greeted him. Stevenson was feeling his oats and did his version of the Ali shuffle. Bika’s right eye was beginning to swell.

A three-punch combination caught Bika to start round seven. A two-punch combination followed. The fight was so one-sided that Stevenson’s interest was starting to wane. The fighters traded lefts. Adonis landed another three-punch combination, which Bika shook off. His ability to take a punch is commendable, as is his willingness to fight back when all appears lost. Stevenson landed a right uppercut on the inside. Bika connected with a right hook at the bell, signaling that his goose might have been cooked, but he wasn’t done.

Bika took round eight. He was timing Stevenson’s robotic jab-jab-straight left and countering with rights of his own. Applying pressure to someone accustomed to applying pressure was giving Stevenson something unpleasant to consider. Bika caught the champion with a right that drove him to the ropes. It looked like Stevenson was fading and Bika was for real.

Stevenson opened the ninth with a series of body shots followed by a straight left to Bika’s head. It looked like he had regained control of the bout. He was landing his right jab. He was pummeling Bika’s body. With less and 30 seconds left in the round, a Stevenson left dropped Bika again. He got to his feet, made it to the end of the round, and wobbled to his corner.

Bika looked worse for wear to start round 10. Stevenson was stalking his opponent, looking for the kill. It took a minute before Bika got his legs back. He landed a short right, a hook, two more rights and a jab. Stevenson countered with a straight left that rendered the flurry irrelevant. He had hurt Bika again. The challenger’s surge was fast becoming a distant memory. It was all Superman all the time.

The championship rounds were supposed to be an afterthought. Bika landed a right to begin the 11th. Stevenson connected with two jabs followed by a straight left. Bika unloaded a left hook that landed and caught Stevenson looking. He followed that up with two right hands. Stevenson didn’t know what hit him, but it was enough to edge the round in the challenger’s favor.

Bika’s landed a nice combo at the start of the 12th and final round. Stevenson was jabbing, raising his hand in victory, talking trash, and generally acting foolish. Bika landed a right. It looked like Stevenson was fading, as he tends to do, but one wouldn’t know it if his antics in the ring were taken as seriously as he hoped.

Bika had his moments, but Stevenson definitely won the fight. Now that The Scorpion has been beaten, it’s time for Stevenson to fight an elite fighter, time for him to fight another titleholder. He can say “Superman’s in the house, baby” until he’s blue in the face, but talk is cheap, especially when Sergey Kovalev and the rest of us are waiting.

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  1. Old Yank 07:40am, 04/07/2015

    Hauser’s observation about the thin advertising was uniquely his—other pundits either thought it unworthy of note or simply missed the important observation. Love him or hate him, Hauser makes a six-figure income as a pundit where few others can survive without a real day job.

  2. Clarence George 07:46am, 04/06/2015

    Ha!  Yes, I’d forgotten that Hauser is considered something of a boogeyman, and it wasn’t my intention to carry his water for him, à la Gunga Din.  But he nevertheless made some worthwhile points.  The color of the trunks, for example, wouldn’t confuse the savvy, but it would (or at least could) the casual fan.  The lack of advertising revenue is far more significant.  The interest most sports fans (never mind the general public) have in boxing today would fit on the head of a pin, with ample room left over for several couples to rumba.  The experiment’s worthwhile and isn’t necessarily doomed to failure.  But the fights so far have been so-so, if not downright awful.  Stevenson-Bika can hardly be considered an exception.  Unless and until that changes, people won’t tune in.  And where people don’t tune in, companies don’t advertise.  And where companies don’t advertise…well, it’s like the house that Jack built.  In this case, perhaps, the one Haymon doesn’t.

    A lot of truth to “That may sound paranoiac, assuming it doesn’t sound plausible.”  Yes, a thin line.

  3. Robert Ecksel 06:35am, 04/06/2015

    Leave it to Hauser to raise some interesting issues. He used to raise interesting issues concerning HBO, until he was hired by HBO as a consultant, at which time he stopped raising interesting issues concerning HBO. A master tactician if there ever was one, there may be a subtext at play concerning Haymon Boxing which Hauser did not reveal. He may be doing the bidding of HBO (assuming he’s still receiving that annual six-figure buyout), whose hegemony, if not exactly threatened, is being questioned by the notion of boxing appearing on network TV. That may sound paranoiac, assuming it doesn’t sound plausible. The fact that Stevenson and Bika both wore gold trunks was a bit confusing. I was able to distinguish them by noticing that the one-handed southpaw kept landing straight lefts at will, while the other fighter, the righty, absorbed punishment like a sponge. End of confusion. Regarding the lack of advertising, maybe we should give it a chance. I don’t want to go all Ecclesiastical or Field of Dreams on you, and no one ever accused me of being a cockeyed optimist, but the “if you build it, they will come” meme has some truth to it. I’m not ready to thrown in the towel on this experiment, at least not yet.

  4. Clarence George 04:50am, 04/06/2015

    Thomas Hauser raises some interesting issues, including the unnecessary confusion of Stevenson and Bika wearing identically colored trunks.  More importantly, however, Hauser notes something that caught my attention as well—the almost complete absence of paid advertising throughout the broadcast.  Not even Vince Shlomi or Anthony Sullivan put in an appearance.  Hauser calls this “troubling.”  That’s putting it mildly.  It’s a matter of no tickee, no shirtee.  No viewers, no ad dollars.  No ad dollars, no boxing on “free” TV.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:19am, 04/05/2015

    Just learned that C.J. Ross is picking Floyd to stop Manny inside of eight! That’s all I needed to hear….here’s my chance to get back what I lost on John Molina and more! She’s licensed as a judge by the NSAC which means she knows way the fuk more about boxing than anyone who writes for or visits…..God!....this is great….and to think I was going to lay off here….this is a Godsend and on Easter too!

  6. Jim Crue 07:03pm, 04/04/2015

    What a laugh. Superman is not super. A one trick pony. The Russian on the undercard crushes him as does Kovalev. My bet is Commander Haymon does not let him close to either guy. If he can’t put away a blown up middleweight with not much of a punch and who is not much of a boxer Superman, what an arrogant ring name, is so much toast against a tough guy.

  7. Sergei 06:54pm, 04/04/2015

    Adonis is a one armed bandit. Beterbiev would beat him at this point. Supergirl is a terrible boxer.

  8. Clarence George 06:17pm, 04/04/2015

    Bika is very tough and durable, but I don’t understand what he’s up to in the ring.  Is that supposed to be boxing?  I don’t recognize it.  It’s not the flexible interpretation of the rules that bothers me, but the weirdness of his style.  Even the way he stands is odd, sort of like a newborn fawn.  As for Stevenson, his tendency to showboat will cost him dear one day.  Someone (maybe Kovalev) will knock him through the roof of the arena, just like Popeye used to do to Bluto.

  9. beaujack 04:29pm, 04/04/2015

    WOW, first time I ever saw a one-handed champion today. His name was Stevenson, who has but ONE weapon ,his left hand. Now I almost certainly know why “Superman” has avoided Kovalev like the plague…
    Beterbiev looked a helluva lot more impressive koing Campillo , than Adonis did for sure…

  10. Kid Blast 02:56pm, 04/04/2015

    The scoring was a lot closer than I expected. Superman is going to get rocked badly by the Krusher. Bika lacked power. Sergey does not.

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