There Are No Chickens In Kiev: Why It Seems The Ukrainians Are Taking Over Boxing

Ievgen Khytrov vs Maurice Louishome

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko will be remembered as two of the most dominant heavyweights of all-time.

They are Ukrainian.

Vasyl Lomachenko is among the five greatest amateurs in history, and now he’s a professional world titlist.

He is Ukrainian.

List the top prospects in boxing and you have to include Ivan Redkach, Vyacheslav Glazkov, Oleksandr Usyk, Ievgen Khytrov, and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

They are all Ukrainian.

The Ukrainians may or may not be taking over boxing, but for one night at least, they’re taking over ShoBox.

On Friday night in Brooklyn, local favorite Frank Galarza will return to ShoBox and tackle Belgium’s Sheldon Moore in the main event. But much of the focus will be on the fights of Khytrov and Derevyanchenko, who live in Brooklyn after having relocated from Ukraine.

A quickie preview:

Frank Galarza-Sheldon Moore, junior middleweights: Galarza is known as “The Brooklyn Rocky,” and he’ll make his third ShoBox appearance vs. Moore.

No, Adrian will not be there. If Galarza wins, he better call for somebody else.

Galarza, 16-0-2, has both boxed and slugged his way to wins on ShoBox, and it’ll be interesting to see what he’ll choose to do against Moore, 13-2-1, a bit of a mystery man who’s fought mostly in Europe.

Brooklyn vs. Belgium. I’m waffling on my pick.

Ievgen Khytrov-Aaron Coley, middleweights: Khytrov (pronounced HEE-Trof) has star potential because of the way he looks and because of the way he fights. He’s relentless, dangerous with his right hand, and about as fan-friendly as any prospect in the game. He’s a perfect 9-0 with 9 kayos as a pro, and his most recent win, a stoppage of power-punching veteran Jorge Melendez, suggests that he’ll be contending before the end of the year.

Khytrov is 26 years old. He had no less than 500 amateur bouts, which means he must’ve been engaging in official fights while walking to school, eating dinner, and brushing his teeth.

He represented Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics.

Coley, 9-0-1, is a southpaw from Northern California who trains at Virgil Hunter’s gym. He’s faced only one winner as a pro, so this is a jump in class of almost unimaginable proportions.

Sergiy Derevyanchenko-Alan Campa, super middleweights: Like countryman Khytrov, the 29-year-old Derevyanchenko is on a fast track. He fought 24 times in the quasi-professional World Series of Boxing, so if you count those bouts, he’s 27-1. If you dismiss those fights, he’s 4-0.

Lou DiBella, who promotes Derevyanchenko, claims his charge will be a ranked contender before 10 pro fights. And why not? “The Technician” had 300 amateur bouts, fought in the 2008 Olympics, and last time out, blew away the veteran Vlad Biosse in two rounds.

Campa, 13-1 with 1 no-contest, will be fighting outside of his native Mexico for the first time. He was a good enough amateur to have fought in the prestigious Pan Am Games in 2009, so his pedigree is solid.

Whether he can hold off Derevyanchenko is another matter entirely.

See you on Friday night!

Gary Russell Jr. Knocks Out Jhonny Gonzalez To Win World Title

Gary Russell Jr vs Jhonny Gonzalez

After coming close to world championship glory in 2014, Gary Russell Jr. (26-1, 15 KOs), a former United States amateur standout, delivered on his promise in impressive fashion Saturday night, knocking out defending champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-9, 48 KOs), of Mexico City, in the fourth round in the main event of a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader promoted by DiBella Entertainment at The Pearl Theater at Palms Casino Resort.

 In the co-feature on SHOWTIME®, undefeated Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (26-0, 11 KOs) of Houston, won a close, unanimous 10-round decision over Vanes Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., in a clash of top-five ranked super welterweights. There were no knockdowns in a bout scored 97-93 and 96-94 twice.

The talented and quick-fisted southpaw Russell, who stood and exchanged with Gonzalez, utilized his overall speed to dominate. He dropped the veteran three times, once in the third and twice in the fourth before referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight 37 seconds into the round.

“This is the kind of performance I always expect but don’t always get,’’ said Russell, who lost a close 12-round decision to Vasyl Lomachenko in his initial attempt at the 126-pound crown last June 21 on SHOWTIME. “If people only knew how hard we worked for this, the time we put in the gym, the mental and physical things we work on and put ourselves through every day.

“There are always obstacles to overcome but for this fight I was 100 percent. This win is for all the people who have been with me from the beginning.’’

Russell’s strategy was to eliminate Gonzalez’ vaunted left hook, and he executed the plan to near perfection.

“We were never in this to turn it into a track meet,’’ Russell said. “We were going to stand right in the pocket. We know what Gonzalez likes to do, and that’s throw the wide left hook. I tried to bait him into throwing it and he did.

“Honestly, I don’t think he recovered from the first knockdown.’’

Gonzalez, a two-time WBC featherweight world champion – and a veteran of 16 world championship fights – won the title for the first time in April 2011 and made four successful title defenses before losing it in September 2012. He regained the title on a shocking first-round knockout over Abner Mares in August 2013 on SHOWTIME, and had made two more successful title defenses before falling to Russell.

Gonzalez offered no excuses before quickly exiting the ring.

“I’m OK,’’ he said. “I did not expect this kind of fight at all. We expected him to run around the ring with me chasing. But he didn’t.’’

Vanes Martirosyan vs Jermell Charlo

In the co-feature, Charlo silenced critics of his resume by defeating his toughest opponent to date.

He was surprised at the way his match with Martirosyan played out. “I definitely expected a much rougher fight,’’ he said. “This was easy compared to what I thought we were in for.

“I fought smart and when I was told to pick it up, I knew what time it was so I did. I’m absolutely ready for a shot at a world title.’’

Martirosyan, who was cut over the left eye from an accidental headbutt in the eighth round, was visibly disappointed with the result.

“I positively feel 100 percent that I won that fight,’’ he said. “I was the aggressor and forced the action. All he did was run. I landed the cleaner punches. I definitely felt I won the last round.

“I was stunned by the headbutt [that resulted in the bout being halted while he and the ringside physician discussed the cut]. Sure my left eye bothered me after that and it was blurry. But that’s no excuse.

“I felt I was hurting him. He never hurt me once. I really don’t understand this decision.’’

Earlier Saturday, on SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL, undefeated IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (34-0, 23 KOs) overwhelmed mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan (34-3, 18 KOs), dropping the Romanian-based Canadian four times before the one-sided beatdown was wisely halted after the fourth round at Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England.

Brook, of Sheffield, was making the first defense of the welterweight title he took from previously undefeated Shawn Porter last August on SHOWTIME and fighting for the first time since suffering a serious injury when he was stabbed in the thigh during a holiday on the island of Tenerife last September.

The exciting welterweight showed no ill effects from the layoff in an emotional return to the ring, registering two knockdowns in the second round, and two more in the fourth, with the final knockdown coming at the closing bell. Dan suffered the first knockout defeat of his career.

 “I’m back, baby!” said Brook, whose devastating performance against the usually durable Dan electrified the hometown fans while paving the way for a major showdown in the future.

“It was truly amazing to walk out in front of all my fans. I didn’t think I would ever walk again, much less  box again. Here I am filling arenas. I can’t put into words how much it means to be back and defending a world title. It means everything to me.

“It was hard there holding it together. But this is where I belong. The leg feels fine. The leg feels as good as the other leg. There is no problem with the leg.

“If you’re watching Amir Khan, then get in here with me. I know you’re delicate around the whiskers. I’ll take you out.’’

 

SHOWTIME SPORTS TO CHRONICLE THE MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT OF THE YEAR WITH “INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO”

Floyd Mayweather

SHOWTIME Sports® offers viewers exclusive access to Floyd “Money” Mayweather and the most anticipated event of the year with “INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO,” an intimate four-part documentary series chronicling the life of the perennial pound-for-pound champion as he navigates his collision course with Manny PacquiaoEpisode 1 premieres on Saturday, April 18 immediately following the live SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® doubleheader featuring Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.    
 
INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO delivers a unique perspective of the compelling and popular Mayweather in the weeks leading up to the biggest prizefight of this generation.  In the fourth installment, Epilogue, SHOWTIME Sports focuses the distinct and Sports Emmy Award-winning spotlight on the unpredictable drama of fight week, takes viewers inside the ropes on fight night, and into the mind of the fighter in the aftermath of the bout.
 
“SHOWTIME has set itself apart with its coverage of the biggest fights in boxing and our viewers have come to expect the unique access we provide,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports.  “INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO will not only welcome viewers into Mayweather’s camp before the fight, but also give viewers a window into those dramatic and often poignant moments immediately before and after this historic fight.”
 
SHOWTIME cameras are entrenched in Mayweather’s camp in the shadow of the bright lights of Las Vegas.  This unparalleled access allows INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO to peel back the curtain on Mayweather’s opulent public persona while revealing the unrelenting pursuit of perfection that propels the undefeated, undisputed champion. 
 
From the red carpet spectacle of the kickoff press conference in Los Angeles and the rigors of training camp to the intensity of the weigh-in and the calm dressing room after the final bell, INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO offers an inside-out look at an event that has no rival. 
 
Forty-seven fighters have stepped into the ring with Mayweather and all 47 have come away empty.  With complete access to Mayweather and the vast entourage that surrounds and supports him, viewers of INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO come to understand what makes “Money” tick. 
 
INSIDE MAYWEATHER vs. PACQUIAO episodes premiere on SHOWTIME with multiple encore presentations, including the cable television premiere on CBS SPORTS NETWORK.  All episodes of the series will be available on SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, SHOWTIME ANYTIME® and online at SHO.com/Sports
 
Ø  Episode 1 premieres Saturday, April 18 on SHOWTIME, immediately following SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Chavez vs. Fonfara (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). 
Ø  Episode 2 premieres Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME
Ø  Episode 3 premieres Wednesday, April 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.
Ø  Epilogue premieres Saturday, May 9 on SHOWTIME

DEONTAY WILDER BRINGS THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BACK TO AMERICA

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

And the new WBC Heavyweight World Champion….

America finally has its heavyweight world champion as Alabama’s Deontay Wilder dethroned defending champion Bermane Stiverne via unanimous decision (118-109, 119-108, 120-107) Saturday on SHOWTIME® from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), who had never fought past the fourth round and had knocked out all 32 of his professional opponents, boxed brilliantly behind a stellar jab to become the first U.S.-born heavyweight champion in nearly a decade.  The towering 6-foot-7 Tuscaloosa native capitalized on his reach advantage, jabbing consistently to set up a powerful straight right.

Fighting on Hall of Famer Muhammad Ali’s 73rd birthday, Wilder became the first undefeated American heavyweight champion since Michael Moorer in 1994 and the first American champion since Shannon Briggs won the crown in 2006.

“I’m just excited and happy to bring this belt back to America,” Wilder said.  “It’s going to mean a lot. I think I answered a lot of questions tonight.  We knew we could go 12 rounds.  We knew we could take a punch.  We knew we could do it.”

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

Heading into the first heavyweight championship fight at MGM Grand since the infamous Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield ear bite in 1997, there were questions from boxing insiders if Wilder, who had never been truly tested, could handle the power of a true heavyweight and last in the later rounds.  But Wilder answered those questions with a disciplined game plan, landing more than double the total punches and throwing 420 jabs to Stiverne’s 139.

“When I saw he could take a great punch we knew we were in for the long run.  Twelve rounds is nothing.  I want to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division.  Whoever is ready, I’m ready.”

Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) was able to stagger Wilder with a few shots, but he did not throw enough jabs or cut off the ring effectively.  Wilder was allowed to circle the ring and pop his jab at will.  Stiverne landed just 39 jabs compared to Wilder’s 120.

“It wasn’t my night,” Stiverne said.  “I felt 100 percent before the fight but once I got in the ring I couldn’t cut the ring, I couldn’t move my head like I usually do.  What can I say?  Congrats to him.

“I knew I was trying to throw combos of four or five punches and I could only throw two of them.  I just felt like I was flat in the ring.  What I know I could do I didn’t do.  I just have to go back and learn from my mistakes and find out what happened tonight.”

WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz defended his crown for the fourth time with an eighth-round TKO of Jesus Ruiz and afterword called out fellow champions Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux in the co-feature of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.

The early rounds were close and competitive and Ruiz, a heavy underdog, seemed to be a tougher test than he looked on paper.  But it was clear that Santa Cruz was landing the cleaner shaper punches.  The former bantamweight world champion landed some meaningful shots and had Ruiz in trouble in the seventh and, for the first time, it appeared that he could finish Ruiz.

Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) came out blazing in the eighth, landed a big right cross to kick off the round and continued to tee-off on the challenger.  In trouble against the ropes and not fighting back, referee Kenny Bayless jumped in and stopped the bout with Ruiz (32-6-5, 21 KOs) still on his feet at :29 of the eighth round.  The champion landed 43 percent of his total punches and nearly 50 percent of his power punches, while landing an impressive 73 power shots to the body.

“Like I expected, it was a war,” Santa Cruz said.  “He came prepared.  We hurt him and we didn’t let the chance go away.  We kept going after him and we stopped him.  I hurt him with the right hand.  I knew he was hurt so I went after him.  I knew Kenny Bayless would stop it because he wasn’t throwing punches.

“I want the best and I want to please the fans.  I want (Abner) Mares, I want (Guillermo) Rigondeaux. Hopefully our next fight is against one of the best.”

Ruiz, who only landed 22 percent of his total punches, disagreed with the stoppage.

“I want a rematch,” Ruiz said.  “I don’t feel they should have stopped the fight, but I have to accept it.  But I’m fine.  Look at me – I’m not cut. He didn’t even drop me.”

In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast, undefeated super lightweight Amir Imam floored Fidel Maldonado Jr. four times and scored a fifth-round TKO in a brawl that featured five total knockdowns.

Maldonado was the busier fighter, but Imam floored the Albuquerque resident for the fourth time in his career with a short right just a moment before the bell rang to end the second.  Then, in an early candidate for Round of the Year that featured three knockdowns, Maldonado responded by knocking down Imam for the first time in his career 30 seconds into the third with a solid straight left.  Imam bounced back and sent Maldonado to the canvas with a huge right with 20 seconds left in the third and then again with a straight right as part of a vicious attack with less than 10 seconds left in the round.

The action continued and Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) floored Maldonado for the fourth time in the fight with a short right followed by a left hook just seconds before the bell to close the fifth.  Maldonado (19-3, 16 KOs) got up but was wobbling and referee Robert Byrd halted the contest at 2:59.  Imam’s power was the difference, landing 50 percent of his power shots.

“It was a tough knockdown, but champions get up and finish the fight hard and that’s what I did,” Imam said.  “I just had to stay composed and do what I had to do.  “I started timing him.  When I hit him with that good shot he was out.  I could see it.  That was the rope-a-dope.  I was swinging for the fences and that was it, baby.

“I’m ready for the title shot right now.  I just want to fight for the title.”

Four of the five knockdowns occurred with less than 30 seconds left in each round.  After the fight, Maldonado admitted that he simply failed to protect himself when the rounds were winding down.

“I just got caught with a couple of punches,” Maldonado said.  “He kept his composure and he came out with the W.  I just got caught.  I got lazy in there and he capitalized.  He was the better man tonight.  I got kind of bored at the end of the rounds and I paid for it.”

In the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME, undefeated light heavyweight prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (12-0, 10 KOs) kept his perfect record intact with a thoroughly convincing TKO victory of Garrett Wilson (13-9-1, 7 KOs).

Shabranskyy kept his distance and was very effective; landing 48 percent of his power shot and threw more than 60 punches in each round.  The Ukrainian prospect scored a knockdown with a right in the closing seconds of the second and another with a clean right in the final 10 seconds of the eighth, sending Wilson face first to the canvas.  Wilson beat the count but was saved by the bell as Shabranskyy unloaded more than a dozen consecutive punches.

The durable Wilson took a tremendous beating in the ninth and seemingly didn’t land a punch, forcing referee Jay Nady to stop the bout after the ninth upon suggestion of the ringside physician.

In the opening bout of the SHO EXTREME telecast, heavyweight Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) defeated Raphael Zumbano (32-9-1, 25 KOs) via eighth round TKO in a one-sided affair.

Molina, who landed 76 percent of his power shots and more than 50 percent of his total punches, was connecting at will when referee Russell Mora halted the contest at 1:28 of the eighth.

 

 

A Birthday Like No Other

Ali  vs Norton                   boxing    1976

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD 

A suggestion from a writer and broadcaster who’s been around too long to feign emotional detachment: Deontay Wilder, should you score the most meaningful win by an American heavyweight in an elephant’s memory, elevate yourself during your post-fight interview by acknowledging Muhammad Ali’s 73rd birthday.

For that matter, the same suggestion goes for Bermane Stiverne, should HE be victorious tonight.

What Ali has meant to heavyweight history, of course, pales in comparison to a much wider significance. It’s been 33 years since Ali last fought, but go see the movie “Selma,” which details a critical chapter in the civil rights movement … or fast-forward to a week ago and consider the overwhelming gathering of humanity on the streets of Paris in support of free speech.

What you can’t help but realize is that what Ali boldly and unapologetically stood for …and fought for … not only made him unique in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but keeps him relevant today.

Like millions of other baby-boomers, I grew up watching Muhammad Ali and the fights that made the world stop and watch in wonder: wins against Liston … and Frazier … and Foreman … and Norton … and all the others.

I was lucky enough to cover his last two fights, both of which turned out to be sad LOSSES.

Regardless, Ali is the best heavyweight of all-time. But what makes him “The Greatest” is only PARTLY explained by what he gave of himself in the ring.

Happy birthday, champ.

You’re gonna live forever.

Frazier Ellis Ali Louis Patterso

IVAN REDKACH BLASTS YAKUBU AMIDU IN FIRST SHOBOX OF 2015

Ivan Redkach vs Yakubu Amidu

Undefeated prospect Ivan Redkach (18-0, 14 KOs) was impressive in a sixth-round knockout victory over Yakubu Amidu (19-6-2, 17 KOs), who failed to get off his stool following the sixth round in Friday’s main event of ShoBox: The New Generation from Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif.

Working for the first time with new trainer Robert Garcia, Redkach, of Los Angeles by way of Ukraine, started out slow as he found his range, with the durable Amidu handling his power in the opening rounds. Amidu, of Los Angeles by way of Ghana, started slow but picked up the pace in the fourth and then was docked a point by referee Ray Corona for repeated low blows in the fifth.

Amidu, who had never been knocked down in 26 professional fights, suffered two knockdowns in the sixth, with the first coming after a quick right followed by a hard left and the second after an onslaught of power punches. Amidu barely beat the count both times, but he simply couldn’t handle the power of Redkach, who landed 45 percent of his power punches.

“I was getting ready to knock him out,” Redkach said.  “I was going to finish him before his corner stopped the fight.  I would have finished him in the next round.

“I hadn’t been in the ring for sixth months, so I had to feel him out in the beginning before we attacked,” said Redkach. “That was the game plan with Robert Garcia.  I was in perfect physical condition. I will be a world champion very soon.  That is my dream.”

Amidu complained that a leg injury was the reason he quit on his stool.

“I hurt my knee in the last round when I fell on it,” Amidu said.  “I was OK after the knockdown, but when I stood up I felt something in my knee.  I didn’t stop fighting because of the punches; I stopped because I hurt my knee.”

While Amidu complained of a hurt knee after the fight, the California State Athletic Commission stated that the bout was stopped due to punches.  By rule, the commission rules that a knockout.

SHOWTIME Analyst Steve Farhood was impressed by Redkach, who has been labeled by many boxing pundits as a hot prospect to watch.

“It was a very impressive victory because Amidu had never been down and had fought much better opposition,” Farhood said.  “It’s not that Redkach beat him, it’s the way he beat him.  When Redkach debuted on ShoBox we billed him as a lightweight terror and he didn’t really fight that way.  But tonight he fought smart and in the sixth round the terror came out.  He showed he had legitimate power.”

In the co-feature, undefeated junior middleweight prospect Alantez “SlyAza” Fox, of Forestville, MD, kept his undefeated record intact with an eight-round majority decision victory over previously unbeaten Patrick Day, scored 76-76, 78-74, 80-72.

Fox (14-0-1, 4 KOs), who is 6-foot-5, was able to keep Day at distance with his highly effective jab, averaging 54 jabs a round with a total of 436 jabs thrown in just eight rounds. Day (9-1, 5 KOs), who went past six rounds for the first time in his career, wasn’t able to come forward and looked frustrated in later rounds as he entered unchartered territory.

“I was able to land my jab,” said the 22-year-old Fox. “I kept moving and was able to stay off the ropes. I kept him on the outside with my jabs and movement. That definitely was the advantage that I had over him in the fight. It wasn’t just my height that worked; it was my movement and range.

“I was anxious before the fight, but once I was in the ring I settled down,” said Fox, who was making his SHOWTIME debut. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity and am very excited for big things to come.”

Day seemed frustrated with the decision saying, “I think I did enough to win. I think that I landed the better, harder, cleaner, more effective punches.  I thought that’s how professional boxing is scored, but I guess not tonight.  His height wasn’t a huge issue because I still think I won, but it was definitely an obstacle.”

In the ShoBox: The New Generation opening bout, 2012 Olympian Ievgen “Ukrainian Lion” Khytrov (8-0, 8 KOs) remained undefeated with a dominating third-round technical knockout victory over outmatched Maurice “The Natural” Louishomme (8-1-1, 4 KOs).

Khytrov, of Brooklyn, N.Y., by way of Ukraine, controlled the fight from the outset, lighting up Louishomme, of Colorado Springs, Colo., with aggressive right hands and uppercuts to the body that sent Louishomme staggering on multiple occasions in a fight that was entirely one-sided.

Khytrov was highly accurate, landing 53 percent of his power punches, 51 percent of his jabs and 52 percent of his total punches. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight just 24 seconds into the third round after a hard right from Khytrov sent Louishomme’s mouthpiece flying for the third time and awarded Khytrov the technical knockout.

“I was just concentrating and trying to get some work in,” Khytrov said. “I wasn’t in there just looking for the knockout.  I was looking for chances, but I wasn’t going to force it.  The plan was to get some rounds in and really start pushing in the fourth.

“I’m ready to take on anyone. It’s been hard to get fights, but we’re just going to go home and prepare for the next one.”

ADONIS STEVENSON KNOCKS OUT DMITRY SUKHOTSKIY TO RETAIN WBC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

fight night-0013

Adonis Stevenson defended his WBC Light Heavyweight World Championship for the fourth time with a devastating fifth-round knockout of Russian challenger Dmitry Sukhotskiy in the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION on Friday at Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada.

Known for his knockouts, the southpaw champion was patient early, not forcing the action against a defensive Sukhotskiy.  When Sukhotskiy did decide to punch, Stevenson was extremely effective with his counter shots and floored the challenger with a straight left in the closing seconds of the second round.

Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) hit his stride in the fifth, knocking down Sukhotskiy with a straight left and then flooring him for a third time seconds after Sukhotskiy beat the count.  The onslaught continued, with the Haitian-born Canadian going for the kill and attacking with a series of vicious lefts.  The final shot landed flush oo the chin, knocking Sukhotskiy (22-3, 16 KOs) out at 2:42 of the round.

“I gave a beautiful knockout for SHOWTIME,” Stevenson said.  “I just used my speed, my movement.  I have the power and I know the knockouts are going to come.  I’m not going to force it.  I was just waiting for him and, bang, I caught him.  I wanted to hit him with my left hand and it worked.

“I’m the big champion.  He has to come to me,” said Stevenson of any challengers.  “I’m the man in the light heavyweight division. They have to come to me. My job is to go in the ring and knock everybody out.  I’m a ‘Superman.’”

In the co-feature, Jo Jo Dan won another razor close split-decision over hometown favorite Kevin Bizier in a welterweight rematch of their 2013 bout, scored 115-112 Dan, 114-113 Bizier, 114-113 Dan.

The early rounds were extremely close with back-and-forth action that could have gone either way.  Bizier had his best round in the seventh, landing 38 punches to Dan’s 12 and flooring the Romanian for the first time since 2011.  But the Quebec City native may have punched himself out, as Dan rallied and was the more active fighter from that point on.  Dan landed 113 to just 78 for Bizier from the eighth through the 12th rounds.

“It was a very hard fight,” Dan said.  “Kevin is a warrior.  I did my best in the ring.  I think I controlled the action and I think I won the fight.  He changed a lot from the first right.  He moved a lot, and he surprised me with that.  He caught me, but I came up and I came up stronger.  He spent all his energy to put me down.”

With the win, Dan (34-2, 18 KOs) became the IBF No. 1 contender to champion Kell Brook at 147 pounds.

“Yes, of course (I’d fight Bizier again), but first I want to fight Kell Brook,” Dan said.  “I hope we’ll make an exciting fight like this one.”

After the fight, Bizier (23-2, 16 KOs) was disappointed to again be on the losing end of a close split-decision.

“All the close rounds went to Jo Jo,” Bizier said.  “We knew we had to win those last two rounds and I guess they gave it to him.  When I hurt Jo Jo in the seventh I hurt my right hand.  At that point, I was fighting with one hand.

“Let’s fight again. Why not?  The first two fights were close.  I don’t know why, but the judges just seem to give the close rounds to him.”

Super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell was triumphant in his return to SHOWTIME, registering a near-shutout 12-round decision over Derek Edwards, scored 119-109, 120-108, 119-107.

The switch-hitting Dirrell fought entirely from the southpaw stance and dominated the bout from the opening bell, landing lefts and combinations with ease while breaking down Edwards and maintaining his distance.  Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs) landed 46 percent of his power punches compared to Edwards’ 19 percent.  Edwards (27-4-1, 14 KOs) only managed to land one jab through the entire 12 rounds.

“I want to perfect my craft as far as fighting southpaw,” Dirrell said.  “I was shooting the left hand.  This guy has a tough, tough head so I’m not going to doubt my power one bit.  I’m glad to walk away with a victory.  My knuckle was hurting but it wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t throw it.  This boy could take a punch.

“I’m getting there. I’m proud of my performance, but it was a tough 12 rounds.”

Dirrell, who advanced to the No. 2 spot in the IBF super middleweight standings, was asked after the fight by SHOWTIME reporter Jim Gray if he’d like to avenge his lone loss to IBF 168-pound champ Carl Froch.

“I believe he’s scared to fight me,” Dirrell said.  “It’s too risky a fight to take.  But I’m going to push it to the best of my ability.  There’s a win on his record that’s questionable to everyone in the world.  Give me the rematch.  Prove to your fans that you beat me and try to do it again.  Step in the ring with Andre Dirrell and you’re going to see what I’m all about.”

In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev kept his perfect record intact with his seventh knockout in his seventh professional bout, finishing previously unbeaten Jeff Page Jr. at 2:21 of the second round.

Page (15-1, 10 KOs) surprised Beterbiev in the first, knocking down the former Russian amateur champion for the first time in his career.  But Beterbiev (7-0, 7 KOs) stormed back in the second, roughed Page up in the inside and floored the Kansas native.  Page beat the count but was dazed and Beterbiev finished him with a lead right hand that sent Page face-forward to the canvas.

“I felt a bit sleepy before the fight and I don’t think I was concentrating for a fraction of a second (in the first round),” Beterbiev said.  “I got angry after the knockdown and decided to go forward.  I have a lot to learn in professional boxing, but I’m looking forward to the experience.”

When asked if he thinks he could beat WBO/WBA/IBF Champion Sergey Kovalev, who he defeated as an amateur, Beterbiev was noncommittal.

“I beat him (Kovalev) as an amateur so I can’t say much,” Beterbiev said.  “It’s hard to say right now.”