By Jake Donovan
It’s been more than 18 months since Emanuel Steward passed away, but his spirit forever resonates in the lives of all of the people he’s touched through the years. You can count lineal light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson among the fighters who believes the Hall of Fame trainer still resides in his corner in every fight.
Steward didn’t make it long enough to watch Stevenson win the World light heavyweight championship, which the southpaw achieved with a spectacular one-punch 1st round knockout of Chad Dawson last June. The third defense of his title comes this weekend in Montreal, as Stevenson squares off against Top 10 contender Andrzej Fonfara (Saturday, Showtime, 9:00PM ET).
By his own admission, Stevenson (23-1, 20KO) knows very little about his challenger, who was born and raised in Poland but now trains out of Chicago. All he knows is how he is going to beat him.
“I’m going to knock him out,” Stevenson enthusiastically predicts of his upcoming title defense. “I’m a Kronk fighter. That’s how we think. We go in the ring and we think knockout.”
That very mindset has led to his past 13 wins ending well inside the distance, though it can be argued it led to the lone loss of his career – a shocking 2nd round knockout at the hands of Darnell Boone in April ’10. Stevenson avenged the loss three years later, the first of four wins amidst a Fighter of the Year-level 2013 ring campaign.
Coming up on eight full years as a pro, Stevenson has fought just 93 total rounds, an average of less than four rounds per fight. Recent years – particularly his championship reign – have seen an upgrade in competition, but it hasn’t at all slowed down the Haitian-Canadian wrecking ball.
“Usually when the opposition gets better, the knockout ratio drops. Adonis Stevenson continues to knock out people,” notes promoter Yvon Michel. “All of the fighters have a strategy when they go into the ring. That strategy goes out the window when they get hit by Adonis.”
The remark echoes the sentiments once carried by former heavyweight king Mike Tyson, who once famously quipped that everyone had a game plan until they got punched in the face. It’s no small coincidence that Tyson is one of Stevenson’s ring idols, and a fighter after whom he models his own fighting style and mental makeup.
“When you watched Mike Tyson fight, you know somebody was going to get knocked out. That's what I'm going to bring to Showtime, a knockout.”
Stevenson has won ten straight – all inside the distance – heading into this weekend.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.