I suppose it would be nice to root for Adonis Stevenson Saturday night. A colorful late bloomer born in Haiti, transplanted to Montreal at 7, and was on the streets, running with a gang, at the age of 14. His twenties were interrupted by an 18-month prison stint for assault and turning out prostitutes.
Like many a fighter, boxing probably saved him. He has a stellar career as an amateur, winning the Canadian national title in 2005 and 6.
Due to his late start, he didn’t turn pro until he was 29. He won his first 13 fights, 10 by KO. He looked to be on his way and then he was upset by tough as nails journeyman, Darnell Boone. He didn’t just lose, he was TKO’d in the second round.
It would take Stevenson 9 more fights to regain his status. When he did, he didn’t waste it. At the age of 36, he blasted Chad Dawson out in the first round, becoming the WBC light-heavyweight champion.
With his good looks, expansive personality, earth-rattling power, and a hard luck story to boot, Stevenson made one hell of a Cinderella Man.
At least on the surface.
Everyone has a past. People who live off their fists often have some darkness in theirs. Stevenson is no different. He grew up hard. His influences weren’t just suspect, they WERE suspects.
Stevenson was a product of his environment. He deserves a little rhythm for that.
There’s a part of that past that I, well, can’t get past.
That Stevenson was a pimp, was no surprise. That was in the record and one of the reasons why he did time. It’s an ugly business. Pimps aren’t exactly known for their kindness.
The truth about Stevenson and his days of putting women on the street is particularly grisly. The fact that he kept most of the prostitute’s money is offensive, but typical. What he did to them when they didn’t make enough is horrifying.
Stevenson beat the women on the regular. Often pulling a knife on them. One escort who went by the name of Roxanne, revealed that she attempted to escape Stevenson.
She was unsuccessful.
For her trouble, she was beaten. Terribly beaten. Roxanne claims that Stevenson broke her arm and nose, as well as fractured her jaw.
The next day, he beat her again.
It’s that last part that really makes me sick.
Stevenson used to make his bank off the most vulnerable women in society. Not only did he beat them, he enslaved them. Not in some third world cesspool, but in Montreal.
It’s hard to get one’s mind around that.
Somehow, since the specifics of Stevenson’s earlier life became more widely known in May of 2014, just before he fought Andrzej Fonfara, he has found a way to tarnish himself even more. Despite the well-researched details of his history as a pimp, Stevenson has never owned up to the full terror of that time.
He has not taken responsibility. He has not apologized.
Don’t get me wrong, even if he did repent, it wouldn’t be dismissible. What it might have been is understandable. Had he handled the revelations with decency and humility, it might have even been redeemable.
He has not.
Stevenson’s reputation as a boxer has taken a hit in recent years. While he hasn’t lost since his defeat at the hands of Boone, he has not endeared himself to fight fans.
He wanted nothing to do with Andre Ward, and even less from Sergey Kovalev. The latter of whom he has ducked and dodged like a dolphin darting away from a shark. Stevenson says he’s willing to fight Kovalev after his tilt this weekend against Badou Jack – stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.
On a boxing level, that’s an insult to the fans, and to the sport at large.
It is nowhere near the worst thing he has done.
Saturday night, Stevenson will do battle with Badou Jack. A world class fighter who is otherwise unremarkable in almost every way. Oh, he’s a fine fighter, for sure. He’s just not terribly exciting. In or out of the ring.
He’s not a heavy hitter, or a flashy speed merchant. He’s tough and solid, but never to be spoken of in awe-inspired whisper.
Out of the ring, the Swedish fighter is a devout Muslim. Completely lacking in controversy. The next memorable quote he gives will be his first.
He’s an easy boxer to respect, if a difficult one to get excited about. If you were going to create the perfect mix of boring and admirable, you would probably step back from the molded clay and see the visage of Badou Jack.
The thing is though, decency is in short supply these days. Look all around you. As a society, it’s hard to argue we are a progressing people.
The internet has filled us up with so much fake courage, many of us will say things to people online we would never utter in person. Hell, some of us have graduated to treating people with disregard in public. Such is the coarse hubris of the day.
The less fortunate of us are dismissed. Often with a cruelty that can’t even meet the weak standard of passivity. There is a forthright nastiness all around us. That which once hid in the recesses of our minds now walks naked out of our mouths, and even worse, into action.
I have no more stomach for it, or people like Adonis Stevenson.
I’ll be watching Saturday night. Whether it’s deplorable types like Mayweather or Stevenson, I can’t help it. I’m addicted to the game.
Like anyone who enjoys a sport or contest of any kind, it’s always better when you have a rooting interest.
This Saturday evening, I’ve got Jack for that.