QUEBEC CITY - Canadian southpaw Adonis Stevenson retained his World Boxing Council light-heavyweight world title Saturday with a sixth-round technical knockout of Britain's Tony Bellew.
Stevenson dropped Bellew in the sixth with a heavy left to the jaw. Bellew beat the count, but Stevenson landed another left that sent the challenger staggering into a corner. The champion was unloading again on the defenseless Bellew when referee Michael Griffin called a halt at 1:50 of the round.
Haitian-born Stevenson improved to 23-1 with 20 knockouts. He was plainly pleased to have made his point against Bellew after an ill-tempered build-up to the bout.
"He said I'm a dwarf, and the dwarf knocked him out," Stevenson said. "I told him, when he's going to feel my power, I'm going to drop him out."
Bellew, who turned 31 on Saturday, fell to 20-2 with one draw and 12 knockouts. His only other defeat came in his only prior world title fight, a majority decision loss to Welshman Nathan Cleverly two years ago.
Stevenson, 36, posted his fourth knockout in four fights this year. That included a one-punch first-round knockout of Chad Dawson in June to take the WBC belt.
In September he made his first title defence with a seventh-round stoppage of American Tavoris Cloud.
Bellew, from Liverpool, boxed smartly in the early rounds, and drew blood from Stevenson's nose early in the third.
The champion responded with several hard lefts, two of which snapped the challenger's head back.
A wild exchange in the fourth round saw Stevenson go down, but it was ruled a slip after the fighters' feet tangled.
Urged by his corner to vary his attack, Stevenson complied in the sixth, tapping Bellew with a right to the ribs to perfectly set up the left that sent him down.
"I cut the ring very well because he was moving a lot, so I just cut the ring, took my time and gave it a good shot," Stevenson said.
Stevenson said he thought his Canadian fans next want to see him fight Carl Froch or ageless American Bernard Hopkins, the 48-year-old International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight champion.
But also in the mix is Russian Sergey Kovalev, who remained unbeaten with a second-round knockout of Ukrainian Ismayl Sillakh on the same card.
Kovalev burnished his own burgeoning reputation as a knockout artist, sending Sillakh sprawling twice in round two.
The Ukrainian got off the deck after the first knockdown, but Kovalev promptly landed another massive right hand that spelled the end for Sillakh at 52 seconds of the second round.
"I just did it," Kovalev said of the knockout. "This is th result of all my hard work in the gym."
Kovalev improved to 23-0 with one draw and 21 knockouts.
He made his first defence of the World Boxing Organisation light heavyweight world title he captured with a fourth-round technical knockout of Cleverly in Cardiff in August - the first defeat of Cleverly's career.