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Boxing: Canada's Stevenson overpowers Gonzalez

Longueuil, Que. super-middleweight Adonis Stevenson defeeated Noe Gonzalez of Uruguay before an international television audience on Friday. FILE PHOTO: The CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Power puncher Adonis Stevenson says he's ready to take on any super-middleweight in the world.

The Longueil, Que., contender backed Noe Gonzalez of Uruguay into a corner and finished him with a flurry of shots 1:40 into the second round of their scheduled 12 round bout on Friday night to take a step closer to his goal of fighting for a world title.

It was a second straight quick and impressive win since Stevenson (18-1) began working with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, following his first round KO in February of American Jesus Gonzales.

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"I saw him drop his hands and I got him with my left hook," the southpaw Stevenson said. "When I saw he was hurt, I got him into a corner and finished him off."

"I think he fought a perfect fight," Steward added. "His opponent is a good puncher and Adonis systematically broke him down. He didn't just knock him out with punching power."

Stevenson defended his minor NABA, NABO and IBF Intercontinental belts and picked up the WBC Silver belt from Gonzalez (28-2), who had won his previous 14 fights, the last 13 by knockout.

Opportunities for major fights now look to be opening up for Stevenson, who is ranked second by the IBF and should take that same ranking from Gonzalez in the WBC as well.

Promoter Yvon Michel said he will wait until the IBF champion, Lucian Bute of Montreal, defends his title against Carl Froch on May 26 in England. Stevenson may be called upon to fight for the right to become mandatory challenger for that title.

WBC champ Andre Ward has indicated he won't fight No. 1 contender Anthony Dirrell, so Stevenson may get to fight Dirrell for the top ranking. Or, if Ward vacates the title, it may set up a Stevenson-Dirrell matchup for the WBC belt.

Stevenson knows which one he wants.

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"I'd love to fight Bute in Montreal," he said with a wide grin. "That would be a beautiful fight."

Steward feels Stevenson is ready to beat any champion in the 168-pound division and that boxing would be better for it. He said fans love knockouts, and that technical fighters like Ward and Bute were "why we keep losing people to MMA."

"Knockouts — that's what made Mike Tyson so popular," he said. "These type of fights (knockouts) are what's going to raise the sport."

The 34-year-old Stevenson took the first round with a steady jab, but a minute into the second, he landed a left hook that rocked Gonzalez.

He then got his 32-year-old opponent into a corner and fired punch after punch. Gonzalez looked about to go down and wasn't fighting back when referee Michael Griffin moved in to stop the slaughter.

"I got him with the left hook and I came in like a snake to finish him off," Stevenson said.

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Some in the crowd of 2,853 in an end-section of the Bell Centre booed, feeling it was stopped to soon. Griffin heard the boos, but felt he got it right.

"I just thought it was time," he sad. "I don't now if it was early or not, but he had been hurt three or four times already.

"There were a lot of complaints, but none from him. It was evident he was not getting out of that corner."

The fight, which aired on ESPN2, was Stevenson's first major U.S. television exposure.

"He finished him with all well-placed punches; short, accurate punches," Steward said. "I think all the fighers at 168 pounds will have to take notice, not only that he's knocking people out, but with the way he's doing it.

"He's a big threat to any super-middleweight in the world and, the way he's looking, I think he'd beat any super-middleweight in the world, including Lucian Bute."

In the co-feature, Eleider Alvarez (8-0), a Colombian fighting out of Montreal, showed why he is considered a top light heavyweight prospect as he used his quick hands and stiff jab to dominate eight rounds against Rayco Saunders (22-16-2), who is a better fighter than his record indicates.

A lively bout saw lightweight Baha Laham (8-0-1) of Montreal fight to an eight-round draw with Leonus Marie Francoise (8-6-1) of France.

Heavyweight Oscar Rivas (10-0) of Montreal won all six listless rounds against a late replacement, portly 39-year-old Stephane (Brutus) Tessier (3-28-1) of St. Philippe, Que.

Rivas was scheduled to fight Kendrick (The Apostle) Releford (22-16-2), but the Fort Worth, Tex., native was ruled out after turning in a suspicious blood test. Michel refused to divulge what was found in the test, but said it was not an official positive result.

Tessier has not won a match since he beat Patrick Cote on Oct. 1, 2005, when he was a reasonable 3-2. His record includes a loss to Alexander Povetkin, now the WBA heavyweight champion.

Two more lopsided bouts saw light heavyweight Schiller Hippolyte (3-0) knock down defenceless Martin Desjardins (7-22-5) twice for a unanimous four-round decision in a battle of locals, and heavyweight Eric Barrack (7-0) of St. Come, Que. stop Sandy Pembroke (2-5) of Kelowna, B.C., in the second round of a six-rounder.

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