TORONTO — After fighting to a majority draw over 12 hard rounds, the only thing WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and challenger Badou Jack could agree on was they had to do it again.
But they differ on where.
Jack, a Swede who fights out of Floyd Mayweather's camp in Las Vegas, wants it in Sin City or Stockholm. Stevenson, from Blainville, Que., offered up Montreal, Quebec City or Toronto.
"Anybody who wants to fight me, you have to come to Canada," said Stevenson. "If I don't have the title, I'm going to come to the United States (to fight). It's not a problem.
"But now I've got the title."
Stevenson hung on to his title by the slimmest of margins Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre. The 40-year old can count himself lucky, given two judges scored it 114-114 and the third gave Jack a 115-113 edge.
It was a gruelling, riveting fight, with both men enjoying stretches of success. The 34-year-old Jack was the one administering punishment when it ended, however.
"He almost went to the wrong corner after the 12th round," Jack said derisively.
Jack, whose nickname is The Ripper, rode out Stevenson's early power and began to take it to the champion from the seventh round on. The challenger showed resolve and courage in biding his time against Stevenson, who seemed to tire and fight in bursts as the bout wore on.
But the question remains did Jack (22-1-3 with 13 knockouts) wait a little too long before turning it up a notch.
Asked if he thought he had won, Jack replied: "Of course."
"I think I won the fight. A very close fight, " said a subdued Stevenson, who said he was nursing a cold.
The contest drew fans to their feet as it progressed, sweat flying from the fighters' heads as they absorbed some big blows.
"Both fighters were hurt, both fighters recuperated and you had a war," said Sugar Hill, Stevenson's trainer. "This was one of the best light-heavyweight fights in a long time."
"Both of them, I'm sure, are going to be sore tomorrow," he added. "I'm sore just from sitting on the sideline being that close to the punches.
While Jack came on strong as the fight progressed, Stevenson hurt him with a body shot in the 10th round.
"It wasn't that bad but I sucked it up," said Jack. "No problem."
Even British referee Ian John-Lewis took his lumps, absorbing a Jack left hook to the face as he tried to break up the combatants.
"There was blood sweat and tears tonight," said Mayweather. "A great fight."
As with everything in boxing, money will likely decide the rematch site.
"I believe the fight should go where it is the most wanted," said Yvon Michel, Stevenson's promoter.
Michel looked for positives for his fighter out of the evening.
"We all knew that he had a good boxing IQ. We all knew that he was a great puncher. But now we know that he has the heart of a champion, that he has the courage, the determination and he was able to turn (the fight) in is favour. This is why he is still the champion today."
When the rematch comes, Stevenson will be that much older, however.
Stevenson, who had not fought since last June, said he hoped they might go at it again in December and that he planned to be more active in the future.
Mayweather, who co-promoted the fight, suggested Stevenson may not be able to get into the U.S., a reference to the fighter's criminal past as a young man. Stevenson denied that U.S. entry was a problem.
Stevenson's last 15 bouts have been in Canada since a September 2011 outing in Las Vegas.
It was the ninth title defence for Stevenson (29-1-1 with 24 knockouts) since winning the belt in just 76 seconds from Chad Dawson in June 2013.
Stevenson, whose nickname is Superman, came in touting the one-punch knockout power of his vaunted left hand. Jack, a former WBC super-middleweight and WBA light-heavyweight title-holder, said he was younger, bigger and smarter than the champion.
"He said it takes only one punch. What happened?" said Jack.
Stevenson said he knew Jack was looking for his left, so he switched to the right.
Ring Magazine currently has WBO champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia ranked No. 1 among light-heavyweights with Stevenson No. 2 and Jack No. 8.
Bookmakers had the contest as even, with some giving Stevenson a slight edge ahead of the fact.
The challenger, wearing a blue and gold robe, came out first to Sizzla's "Solid as a Rock." Stevenson, clad in a black and gold top, followed to the sounds of Drake's "God's Plan."
Jack got some last-minute instructions from Mayweather as the Swedish national anthem played. Then the fighters started swinging.
The 10-fight card was originally slated for Montreal but was switched to Toronto less than a month ago. No real reason was given other than Stevenson wanted the move. Promoters billed it as the biggest fight in Toronto in some 30 years.
The ACC was configured for about 6,000 Saturday with one end of the arena blocked off and spectators restricted to the lower bowl. While there were empty seats at the other end away from the ring, there was still a decent crowd announced at 4,728.
The nine-fight undercard featured several lesser titles and an attempted ring invasion by an over-refreshed spectator who apparently considered one of the bouts boring and wanted to liven it up himself up by climbing into the ring.
He paid the price, dragged off the corner ropes by security and other officials before being handed over to police.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press