Defending light heavyweight titleholder Adonis "Superman" Stevenson and challenger Thomas "Top Dog" Williams Jr. staged a brief but scintillating slugfest from the opening round and didn't let up until the fourth, when Stevenson knocked out Williams to retain his title Friday night in the headliner of a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.
Stevenson's (28-1, 23 KO's) knockout came at 2:54 of the fourth round, and he made his seventh successful title defense.
"He wanted to put on some pressure, so I put some on as well," said Stevenson, who fought for the first time since scoring a third-round knockout of club fighter Tommy Karpency in September in Toronto. "Two men who know how to fight. We gave a good show, and that's what people want to see."
The fight nearly ended in the first, when Stevenson connected with a hard left to the side of Williams' head that floored him with approximately 30 seconds left in the round. Williams (20-2, 14 KO's) gamely beat referee Michael Griffin's count and survived until the bell.
Williams, from Fort Washington, Maryland, displayed courage by going toe-to-toe with one of boxing's hardest punchers. He staged a spirited rally in the second round, working his way inside by ducking low and catching Stevenson with flush punches. The champion was rocked back on his heels several times, drawing gasps from the crowd.
It still looked like anybody's fight in the third, when the two continued to trade vicious punches. Stevenson drilled Williams with a head-snapping uppercut, only to have Williams roar back with hard blows of his own.
Stevenson, 10 years Williams' senior at age 38, launched a concentrated body attack in the fourth, but one of his punches landed below the belt, forcing the referee to call a timeout while Williams recovered.
Undaunted by a potential penalty if he hit low again, Stevenson continued to sink blows into Williams' body. Then, with the weakened challenger almost doubled over, Stevenson landed a final crushing left to the head that put Williams on the canvas again and ended the fight.
"It was a firefight," Stevenson said. "It was a fight with two guys who could punch and it was spectacular. It was my daughter's birthday and I gave her a great gift."
In the chief supporting bout, undefeated Eleider Alvarez won a unanimous 10-round decision over Robert Berridge in a humdrum cruiserweight bout.
Alvarez (20-0, 10 KO's), a Colombian fighting out of Montreal, battered New Zealand's Berridge (27-5-1, 21 KO's), who suffered a swollen right eye and bloody mouth, but stayed on his feet throughout the bout.
"I am happy with the win, but I would have liked a knockout," Alvarez said. "He was tough, but he did not hurt me at all and I thought that I hurt him. I am ready for my next challenge, which will hopefully be a world title fight."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.