MONTREAL — The champion passed his first test — and he looked magnificent in the process.
Adonis Stevenson retained his World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title with an impressive performance against American Tavoris Cloud.
Stevenson scored a technical knockout at 3:00 of the seventh round. Cloud was unable to answer the bell for the eighth, his trainer, Al Bonanni, wisely halting the carnage Saturday night before 9,122 Bell Centre spectators.
Cloud, a former International Boxing Federation champ, had both eyes bleeding in the seventh round and would have been in serious jeopardy had the bout been allowed to continue.
Cloud, indeed, was in trouble from the opening round, his left eye at least partially closed from a straight left.
Stevenson, a southpaw from Blainville, was defending the title he captured last June with a stunning opening-round knockout over Chad Dawson. That fight lasted only 76 seconds before Dawson caught a crunching left.
Cloud, meanwhile, proved more resilient and durable, but was never a serious threat.
Stevenson proved he’s a puncher who can fight like a boxer. He moved, paced himself, picked his shots and repeatedly scored from a right jab and straight left combination.
Stevenson outboxed and outpunched his opponent. Clearly, he outclassed Cloud, from Tallahassee, Fla.
All three judges — American Steve Morrow, Canada’s Claude Paquette and Belgium’s Daniel Van de Wiele — had Stevenson winning every round.
Stevenson improved to 22-1 with 19 knockouts. Cloud, who lost his title last March to Bernard Hopkins, saw his record drop to 24-2.
Stevenson now is expected to meet England’s Tony Bellew, the mandatory challenger at 175 pounds, on Nov. 30 in Quebec City.
Meanwhile, former WBC light-heavyweight champ Jean Pascal, fighting for the first time since last December, scored a technical knockout at 2:54 of the fifth round against American journeyman George Blades.
Pascal, in the ring for only the third time since losing his title to Hopkins in May 2011, dropped Blades with an uppercut in the fifth round. Blades fell to the canvas twice more and referee Marlon B. Wright had no choice but to end the proceedings following a mandatory three knockdowns in a single round.
Pascal improved to 28-2-1. Blades, who’s 39 years old, is now 23-5-2, but his record is deceiving. Nineteen of his victories have come against boxers with losing records.
Pascal’s now scheduled to meet former International Boxing Federation super-middleweight champ Lucian Bute this January at the Bell Centre.
In preliminary bouts, light-heavyweight Eleider Alvarez pounded out a unanimous 10-round decision against Edison Miranda.
Miranda, best remembered around these parts for getting stopped in the third round of their April 2010 bout by Bute, was knocked down in the eighth round by Alvarez, catching an overhand right.
But Miranda arose, beat the count and continued fighting for the final two rounds, for which he should be commended.
Alvarez improved to 13-0, while Miranda is now 35-9.
Other winners included Kevin Bizier, Antonin Decarie and Artur Beterbiev.
Bizier, the North American Boxing Association welterweight champ, scored a unanimous six-round decision against Giuseppe Lauri, a 37-year-old Italian fighting out of Hungary.
Bizier remains undefeated, improving to 21-0. Lauri, who has lost six consecutive bouts, dropped to 53-14.
Laval welterweight Decarie was fighting for the first time since losing a unanimous 10-round decision to Argentinian Luis Carlos Abregu last April for the WBC Silver welter crown.
Decarie improved to 28-2, while Larbi saw his record slip to 17-4-2.
Beterbiev, now 2-0, scored a technical knockout against 39-year-old Rayco Saunders, who was knocked down twice in the third round and was unable to answer the bell for the fourth, seemingly from a knee injury. Saunders has a record of 23-23-2.