MONTREAL - Adonis Stevenson dropped Don (Da Bomb) George twice in the 12th and final round to win a free-swinging IBF super-middleweight elimination bout on Friday night.
Stevenson (19-1), from Longueuil, Que., also put the resilient Chicago fighter down twice in the fifth and again in the sixth round of fight between power punchers that went longer than expected.
With the victory, Stevenson becomes mandatory challenger to IBF champion Carl Froch (29-2), the Englishman who took the title from Lucian Bute of Montreal in May. When that fight takes place is uncertain, as Froch has a tune-up bout with Yusef Mack on Nov. 17 and also is committed to a rematch with Bute.
Stevenson looked to have the win in hand in the fifth when he landed a shot on George's belt and followed with a flurry to put him down. He did not count on the 27-year-old's granite chin, however, as George got up from that and another knockdown to finish the round in a furious brawl against the ropes.
After a few rounds where each fighter looked to be catching his breath, the 35-year-old Stevenson started the final round by urging the crowd of 4,251 in a sectioned off area of the Bell Centre to make noise, then went about putting George down twice more before referee Marlon Wright stopped the bout 55 seconds into the 12th.
Emanuel Steward, Stevenson's hall of fame trainer, missed the match, as the 68-year-old is recovering from surgery for a colon ailment. Javan (Sugar) Hill and Dereck Coleman took over his training.
The bout was originally scheduled for Aug. 11, but was put off to Aug. 17 only to be postponed again when Stevenson suffered a hand injury in training.
In the co-feature, middleweight David Lemieux (27-2) of Montreal, still on the rebound from his first two losses in 2011, won a second straight fight convincingly, knocking down Alvaro Gaona (15-2) of Mexico late in the first round with a straight right and then knocking him out cold with a left hook only two minutes 48 seconds into the scheduled 10-round fight.
One of promoter Yvon Michel's top prospects, Colombian NABO light heavyweight champion Eleider Alvarez (10-0), dropped Daniel Regi (15-7) with an uppercut and then put him down twice more in the second round to take the scheduled eight-round bout.
Light middleweight Kevin Bizier (18-0) of St-Emile, Que., returned from an 11-month layoff to drop Patrick Litkiewicz (6-1) of Poland in the first round with a left hook to the liver.
Irish light middleweight John O'Donnell (26-2) scored an eight-round decision over Thomas Mendez (16-3) of the Dominican Republic.
Heavyweight Didier Bence (6-0) of Montreal needed an eight-count when he was rocked in the first round but recovered for a six-round decision over journeyman Harold Sconiers (18-25-2).