Stevenson anchors strong showings by southpaws in recent world title bouts

With young guns Gervonta Davis, Gary Russell Jr. and Errol Spence Jr. now sitting atop their respective divisions, Adonis Stevenson has some company when it comes to left-handed world titleholders.

Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara

Southpaw 175-pound champion Adonis Stevenson relied heavily on his left hand to gain a second-round knockout of Andrzej Fonfara in their world title rematch on June 3 in Montreal. (Stephanie Trapp/Showtime)

Representing what ringside analyst Paulie Malignaggi calls “a new age of new-breed southpaws,” Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) retained his 175-pound championship with a second-round KO of Andrzej Fonfara in their world title rematch June 3 at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

“Davis, Spence and Russell are amazing, young, super-talented southpaws,” said Stevenson, the oldest reigning champion in any weight class at age 39. “I’ve definitely seen all of their [recent] fights. They’re a lot of fun to watch. I say, ‘Welcome to the club.’ It’s good for boxing.”

Malignaggi worked as a ringside analyst for Showtime on Stevenson-Fonfara II, in addition to the most recent fights for Davis, Russell and Spence.

“Southpaws can be dull, but these guys have two-fisted power, versatility and lots of dimensions,” said Malignaggi, a former two-division champion. “They look to make a statement in the ring, bringing aggression, creating action, going for the knockout and changing angles, whether attacking or defending.”

In January, Gervonta Davis (18-0, 17 KOs), of Baltimore, crumbled previously unbeaten 130-pound titleholder Jose Pedraza in the seventh round to become the second-youngest reigning world champion at age 22.

“Tank” Davis scored his ninth straight stoppage in his first defense in London on May 20, his left cross keying a third-round TKO of Liam Walsh just hours ahead of Russell’s seventh-round TKO of Oscar Escandon at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“I used my boxing IQ and picked my shots. … I got him out of there,” Davis said. “Some people didn't pick me to beat Pedraza, but I enjoy proving people wrong. The fans and media tell me I bring excitement to the sport of boxing. I believe I'm that guy they've been waiting for, and that next pay-per-view star.”

Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) dropped Escandon in the third round of his second 126-pound title defense, his right hook securing his third straight knockout in his Maryland debut.

A jab is a jab, a hook is a hook, an uppercut’s an uppercut, no matter the stance. But the difference is the level of intellect and technique. We’re all warriors and this is definitely our season. 126-pound world champion Gary Russell Jr., on his fellow southpaw titleholders

“Escandon was a stronger puncher than anyone I had ever competed against, but I caught a lot of his punches on my arms,” said Russell, 28, of Capitol Heights, Maryland. “I could have kept him on the outside and boxed, but I wanted to display some of the many pieces of my arsenal."

A week later, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) dethroned British 147-pound world champion Kell Brook in Sheffield, England, by 11th-round knockout before a capacity crowd of 27,000. “The Truth” used a varied attack to score two knockdowns of Brook, whose left eye socket was broken in the fight.

“I came to his backyard. That’s what real champions do,” said Spence, 27. “I’ve proven I have a chin and I have true grit. … I want to unify divisions. I want all the champions. I want [Keith] Thurman, Manny Pacquiao. I want to fight the best, just like true champions do.”

Russell said the trio's ascension is a result of their unique skill sets.

“A jab is a jab, a hook is a hook, an uppercut’s an uppercut, no matter the stance,” he said. “But the difference is the level of intellect and technique. We’re all warriors and this is definitely our season. We’re hungry and in position to reap our harvest.”

Stevenson has held his title since June 2013, when he delivered a 76-second knockout of Chad Dawson in Montreal. 

“Stevenson’s the traditional southpaw, but with an ability to set traps and land the big left or counter left,” Malignaggi said. “You don’t see Stevenson busy with the right hand aside from touches setting up the left. I don't think you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

That's just fine with Stevenson.

“People can talk all they want, but my favorite punch is the left hand, and I use it to knock people out,” Stevenson said. “From seeing Russell, Davis and Spence, I’ve learned and changed a few things. If I ever have to do more, then I will.”

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