Boxing

Adonis Stevenson, Sergey Kovalev could help make 2014 the year of the light heavyweights

Kevin Iole
Boxing

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Tony Bellew (L) challenges champ Adonis Stevenson on Saturday for the WBC light heavyweight title. (AP)

Adonis Stevenson has had a superb 2013 campaign, and even though Floyd Mayweather Jr. seems to have the edge on Fighter of the Year honors, "Superman" remains in contention heading into his WBC light heavyweight title bout on Saturday in Quebec City against Tony Bellew.

Stevenson has scored two impressive knockout wins in 2013, halting Chad Dawson in the first round and then stopping Tavoris Cloud after seven one-sided rounds. An impressive win over Bellew would force voters to at least consider him as 2013 Fighter of the Year.

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Sergey Kovalev (R) destroyed Nathan Cleverly in August. (Getty Images)

But more importantly, a big victory for the heavy handed Stevenson would put him in prime position for 2014. First, it will position him for a fight with Sergey Kovalev, a match that would be an absolute donnybrook, should Kovalev, as expected, get past Ismayl Sillakh on Saturday's undercard.

A Stevenson-Kovalev WBC-IBF unification bout would be one of the best action fights on the early 2014 schedule.

If things go according to plan on Saturday and both Stevenson and Kovalev win, it will in the short term set up a match between the winners, but in the long term, position the survivor as the leading candidate to face Andre Ward. Ward is still at super middleweight, but figures to move to light heavyweight in 2014. He's no worse than the second-best fighter in the world now, behind Mayweather, and appears poised to take over that mythical top spot.

The light heavyweight division, which also includes the soon-to-be 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins, is suddenly becoming one of boxing's best.

Stevenson and Kovalev both have the kind of aggressive, entertaining style that will make them stars once fans become familiar with them. And their ability will help Ward who, for all his greatness, still can't sell tickets.

With a little luck, 2014 is shaping up as the Year of the Light Heavyweights.

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