Stevenson batters George, lines up Froch

There's a point in every horror movie when the audience begins to question whether the villain is human after absorbing so much damage only to keep marching forward.

Donovan George had the fans in Montreal thinking the same exact thing after his ultra-gutsy effort in defeat against Quebec resident Adonis Stevenson in their super middleweight title eliminator Friday night at the Bell Centre.

Knocked down five times before referee Marlon B. Wright called a halt to the bout 55 seconds into the 12th round, George (23-3-1, 20 KOs) was never truly out of the fight and nearly stole the show from what became an impressive and thorough performance from Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs).

"You a f------ warrior, man," Stevenson told an emotional George while the two fighters embraced after the bout. "Respect. Respect."

With the victory, Stevenson became the No. 1 contender for IBF titlist Carl Froch -- but he almost didn't get there, even in winning a wild thriller that was postponed twice in the past two months.

George, 27, didn't simply prove he could take a beating; the Chicago native was able to dramatically save himself from the verge of being stopped on multiple occasions to stun Stevenson with powerful right hands, each time nearly stealing the momentum of the bout.

Stevenson, a southpaw, built an early lead on the scorecards by working the body and landing a series of stinging left hands from multiple angles. He floored George twice in a dramatic fifth round, only to see George get off the ropes to hurt him with multiple right hands as the two fighters brawled until the bell.

George hit the canvas again in the sixth round on another body shot before running out of gas in the 12th round as Stevenson emptied the tank with combinations.

The victory allowed Stevenson, a native of Haiti, to seemingly make the leap from devastating puncher to legitimate contender at 168 pounds. With knockouts in his past nine victories -- including many of the highlight-reel variety -- Stevenson is surely a tough out for anyone in the division.

A potential date with Froch, who will defend his title against Yusaf Mack in England on Nov. 17, has the makings of pure excitement considering the way Stevenson has been able to mix hand speed and body punching with his dangerous left hand.

More important, it's also a fight that the 35-year-old Stevenson, a veteran of just 20 professional fights, could legitimately win.

Lemieux continues comeback with thrilling KO

Following back-to-back upset defeats, 23-year-old middleweight David Lemieux of Montreal continued his comeback with a knockout of the year candidate against Alvaro Gaona.

Lemieux (27-2, 26 KOs), a former prospect who suffered stunning defeats to Marco Antonio Rubio in April 2011 and Joachim Alcine last December, won his second straight bout by knockout.

After knocking down Gaona (11-2, 7 KOs), 27, of Mexico, with a straight right hand midway through the first round, Lemieux came back with a looping right hand and a textbook short left hook to knock his opponent cold at 2:48 of the opening round. Gaona, whose head bounced off the canvas twice upon impact, was able to walk off on his own power after the fight.

It's unclear whether Lemieux has what it takes to someday become the best fighter in his division. But with the kind of exciting power in both hands and style that originally created buzz throughout the sport, it almost doesn't matter. There will be plenty of fun fights for Lemieux to pick from as long as he keeps climbing the ladder back to contention.