NEW YORK – Andrzej Fonfara eyed WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson’s title belt during Wednesday’s final press conference at Casino de Montreal, the look of a man eager and confident heading into the biggest fight of his boxing career. Photos by Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME.
Fonfara will challenge Stevenson for the WBC crown in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, this Saturday, May 24, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
“This is not my first time as an underdog,” Fonfara said. “I’ve proved people wrong before and I’ll do it again.”
The 26-year-old Fonfara (25-2-0, 15 KOs), of Chicago by way of Warsaw, Poland, is the No. 3 contender in the WBC, the No. 1 contender in the IBF, and holds victories over three former world champions in his last five fights. Fonfara has won 15 fights in a row, 12 by knockout, and has never been defeated as a light heavyweight.
“He’s confident. I’m confident. But I have the power to end this fight quickly,” said Stevenson.
The 36-year-old Stevenson (23-1-0, 20 KOs) laid his claim as the world’s No. 1 light heavyweight with an exceptional 2013 campaign that included knockout victories over Chad Dawson and Tavoris Cloud, earning him The Ring Magazine award for “Fighter of the Year.”
In co-featured fights this Saturday, May 24, on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, power-punching, world-ranked Montreal middleweight David Lemieux (31-2, 29 KOs) meets Fernando Guerrero (26-2, 19 KOs) of Salisbury, Md., in a 10-round bout, and Houston’s unbeaten rising star Jermell Charlo (23-0, 11 KOs) takes on Japan’s Charlie Ohta (24-1-1, 16 KOs) in a 12-round junior middleweight match.
On SHO EXTREME (7 p.m. ET/PT) from the Bell Centre, Julian “J-Rock” Williams (15-0-1, 9 KOs), of Philadelphia, faces Michael Medina (26-4-2, 19 KOs), of Modesto, Calif., in a 10-round junior middleweight scrap and world-ranked Eleider Alvarez (14-0, 8 KOs), of Montreal by way Colombia, collides with Alexander Johnson (15-1, 6 KOs), of Washington, D.C., in a 10-round light heavyweight bout.
Here’s what the participants had to say at Wednesday’s press conference:
“He’s confident. I’m confident. But I have the power to end this fight quickly.
“I’m in tremendous shape. I took a rest and my body is recovered. Now, I’m ready to get back in the ring and prove why I’m the best light heavyweight in the world.
“I’m used to fighting taller guys with long range. That won’t be a problem for me. We’ll use my speed and power to (to negate that).
“It’s a tough challenge. “I’m not overlooking him because I know he is very dangerous. I know he’ll be ready for me.
“My trainer trained me for the knockout, so I’m looking for it. I know he is a good fighter and he’s the best contender, so you have to watch Saturday night. It’s going to be a good fight, exciting.”
Regarding verbal exchange during the ‘face off’…
“I asked him if he liked the belt…And I told him the belt is going to stay in Montreal.”
“Everyone wants to fight for the biggest trophy and against the best fighters. He’s the best world champ in this division and Saturday is my chance to prove that I am the best.
“This is not my first time as an underdog. I’ve proved people wrong before and I’ll do it again.
“Everyone will see what I bring to the ring. I can handle his power. That doesn’t worry me.
“Everything is at stake. I have the chance to make history, so I have plenty of motivation for this fight.
“He has power, but I can knock him out, too. A knockout would be the best offense for me. With our styles, it will be a good, exciting fight.
“You’ll see on Saturday why I’m the better fighter. This is the right time for me.”
On Stevenson’s loss against Darnell Boone…
“I’ve got a good punch with both hands. He’s gotten knocked out before. It proves he goes down too. He’s not Superman like he thinks he is. He went down and he lost the fight.”
JAVAN “SUGAR” HILL (STEVENSON TRAINER):
“I know the Fonfara camp very well. Sam (Colonna) and I go back to the amateur days. I know he trains fighters as well as I do. This is another level we have to fight on, only this is a world championship level. We can’t wait to test our skills against each other.
“Everything is perfect. The training camp went well. Adonis is ready - his main focus is fighting Fonfara and the other objective is to get a knockout. I’m looking for a knockout from Adonis Stevenson and I hope everyone else is.”
SAM COLONNA (FONFARA TRAINER):
“This is a dream come true for him. He’s been working his whole life to come to this level and now he’s here.
“Andrzej has always been the underdog, but he’s always come out on top. Come the 24th we’re going to surprise some people.
“We started out sparring in Chicago and moved to Big Bear. We had some great sparring partners, we couldn’t pick better guys.”
YVON MICHEL, GROUPE YVON MICHEL (STEVENSON’S PROMOTER):
“We are very, very happy to do the first title defense of Adonis Stevenson on SHOWTIME. One of the missions that SHOWTIME and Stephen Espinoza have is to show the unification of the light heavyweight title.
“Adonis has a lot of ambition. His ambition was step by step. He had a huge task. He wanted to be a contender, then a champion, then a unified champion. He wants to be a legend and one day in the Hall of Fame. He is doing what he has to do to reach his goal.
“There will be another title that Adonis will be defending Saturday and that title is Fighter of the Year for 2013. His name is up there with some of the best fighters in history. He is the first Canadian fighter ever, in the 85--year history, to be recognized as the Fighter of the Year. It was not by accident.
“Sugar is the one who took the task from his uncle (Emmanuel Steward) and built Adonis as a world champion and Fighter of the Year. He is the one who showed Adonis boxing IQ to complement his power-punching.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, EVP & GENERAL MANAGER, SHOWTIME SPORTS (Prepared Statement):
“Adonis Stevenson is someone I’ve had my eye on for a long time. Long before I took the job as programmer for SHOWTIME Sports, I heard about Adonis from the late, great Emanuel Steward. Steward told me a few years ago that this young man might be the best pure power puncher that he had ever trained.
“When someone like Manny Steward makes a statement like that, you take notice.
“Now, several years later, Adonis is a world champion, universally regarded—and feared—as one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the world. He is coming off a remarkable 2013 campaign that earned him the coveted 2013 Fighter of the Year honor. To say we are excited to have ’Superman’ make his SHOWTIME debut this Saturday would be an understatement.
“Andrzej Fonfara has had an incredible journey to get to this, his first world title fight. He’s young, he’s hungry, and he may have been overlooked, which is a recipe for disaster once the bell rings.”
LEON MARGULES, ANDRZEJ FONFARA’S PROMOTER:
“We didn’t take this fight to come up here and lose. We believe we have an excellent chance to become the next light heavyweight champion of the world.
“When I signed him a year ago, I asked him who, out of anyone in the world he would want to face, and he said Adonis Stevenson.
“This is a fight my fighter wanted more than any other challenge.”