Stevenson vs Cloud: Will HBO Boxing find a new PPV rainmaker tonight?Written by Mike Nashed
Stevenson is, undoubtedly, riding high after his June starching of then divisional kingpin, Chad Dawson, to capture his belt.
In contrast, Cloud has been rather underwhelming in his two most recent bouts, the last of which saw him defeated by 48 year-old Bernard Hopkins, who became the oldest champion in boxing history for the second time.
Stevenson's one-punch knockout of Dawson was as inconclusive as it was impressive. He certainly landed a devastating blow, and with it came a resounding victory, but should we really assume that Adonis is the top dog at 175lbs based on less than two minutes? After all, it was one punch and many believe that Dawson was a damaged fighter after being thoroughly dominated by Andre Ward in 2012.
How much can 76 seconds tell us about Stevenson?
Is today's Tavoris Cloud nearer to the fighter that defended his title for 43 months, or to the confused, out-classed version that we saw in the ring with Hopkins? Therein lies the intrigue – the formerly solid boxer/puncher against the recently touted one-punch knockout artist.
Beyond the day's event, Saturday will certainly have a ripple effect in a division littered with worthy champions and solid contenders. In addition to belt holders, Stevenson and Hopkins, recently crowned WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev, is among the sport's fastest rising stars and is certain to excite with an 87 percent knockout rate.
Recently dethroned champions; Cloud, Dawson, Jean Pascal (also in action Saturday) and Nathan Cleverly are also formidable. But wait, there's more! Many believe that stars, Andre Ward and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will soon enter the light heavyweight picture as well.
Considering that, of the above mentioned, only Hopkins is limited by promotional and network issues, there will be a plethora of potentially makeable fights in the near future. Andre Ward, who has remained fairly unheralded outside of boxing circles, is almost certain to emerge as a pay-per-view star as result.
Despite being recognized as a close second to Floyd Mayweather, on most pound-for-pound lists, Ward's marketability has suffered due to a dearth of quality super middleweight opponents. He would not have that problem as a light heavy. His superior boxing skills would be tested against power punchers, such as Kovalev and, perhaps, Stevenson. Chavez, who has already been in high profile fights, will also draw interest as a potential payday.
HBO Boxing has endured a difficult 12-month stretch, during which, its most marketable star, Mayweather, fled to rival Showtime.
Hopkins may be the odd man out given that he is linked, exclusively, to Showtime, while the others all have a relationship with HBO.
So, the first domino will fall on Saturday – will "Superman" Stevenson fly high or will "Thunder" Cloud knock him out of the sky? In either case, exciting times are ahead.
Stevenson vs Cloud Fight Time: 10:15 pm ET / 03:15 London
Broadcast U.S.: HBO
Broadcast: U.K. Sky Sports
Michael Nashed writes for a multiple online publications, including BoxRec News, and focuses on the business side of boxing.
I am 35 years old and was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. I studied journalism at Boston University, but eventually graduated with a degree in the sciences.
Presently, I work in biotechnology and am also an entrepreneur with a business that specializes in sports entertainment.
I particularly enjoy boxing because, of all major sports, it offers the most poignant moments of truth – “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
I presently write for multiple online publications, including BoxRec News, and am typically in attendance for most major US boxing events and believe that my strongest area of understanding is of the business side of boxing.
Increasingly, in recent years, networks and promoters have directed the sport. This aspect is sometimes overlooked, however, I believe that one must have a grasp of the various business relationships/rifts in order to truly understand boxing.
Though complicated, it’s a great sport.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow me on Twitter at @mikenashed.