Adonis Stevenson retained his WBC light-heavyweight title Saturday night after a majority draw with Badou Jack.
Two judges scored it 114-114 and the third gave Jack a 115-113 edge.
It was a grueling, riveting fight, with both men enjoying stretches of success. Jack was the one administering punishment when it ended, however.
Jack rode out Stevenson’s early power and began to take it to the Canadian champion from the seventh round on at the Air Canada Centre. The Las Vegas-based Swede showed resolve and courage in biding his time against the 40-year-old Stevenson, who tired as the fight wore on.
Jack was busier in the latter rounds with Stevenson seemingly unable to turn on the power.
But he came out swinging in the 11th, battering Jack with body shots. Both men were exhausted, clinching as the round wore down.
They touched gloves before the 12th before swinging away for three more minutes. It was advantage Jack at the end with the challenger staggering Stevenson with a mighty punch.
Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) made his ninth title defense — barely. Jack (22-1-3, 13 KOs) was looking to dethrone Stevenson, who won the belt in just 76 seconds from Chad Dawson in June 2013.
Stevenson came in touting the one-punch knockout power of his vaunted left hand. The 34-year-old Jack, a former WBC super-middleweight and WBA light-heavyweight title-holder, said he was younger, bigger and smarter than the champion.
Jack, a member of Floyd Mayweather’s boxing stable, also ridiculed the quality of Stevenson’s recent opponents while noting the Canadian was the sixth current or former world champion he had faced in a row.
Bookmakers had the contest as even, with some giving Stevenson a slight edge.
The two grudgingly touched one glove as they met in the center of the ring for the pre-fight instructions. The 6-foot-1 Jack had a two-inch height advantage but was giving away four inches in reach.
Stevenson began to string punches together in the fifth. Jack was having trouble finding his range, unwilling to engage the more powerful man in close or move back where Stevenson could use his longer reach.
Stevenson continued to score in the sixth, unleashing body shots. Jack looked to ride out the storm as the crowd chanted “Superman!”
Stevenson seemed to complain of a low blow in the seventh, when Jack got Stevenson’s attention with a combination of punches, driving the champion back. This time Stevenson looked to hang on.
Both connected in the eighth, sweat flying from the blows. English referee Ian John-Lewis warned Jack for a low blow and Jack hurt Stevenson with a sharp right after fighting resumed.
Jack connected more often than Stevenson in the ninth, with his corner dousing him with water as he walked toward them at the end of the round.
Stevenson rallied in the 10th, bringing fans to their feet. They stayed there for the wild 11th.
On the undercard, NABF heavyweight champion Oscar Rivas outpointed Herve Hubeaux. The Montreal-based Colombian improved to 24-0, receiving winning scores of 99-91, 100-90, 100-90 in the 10-round bout.
The fight between former NABF welterweight champion Mikael Zewski and Argentina’s Diego Gonzalez Luque was briefly interrupted in the eighth round when a man tried to force his way into the ring. He was restrained by security and other officials and taken away.
Zewski won a unanimous decision to improve to 31-1-1.
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