By Lem Satterfield
Southpaw Adonis Stevenson said “I want to win this fight by knockout” for fans who “want to see a body on the canvas” in pursuit of his 10th WBC 175-pound title defense and seventh stoppage during that time against Ukrainian 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Oleksander Govzdyk at Centre Videotron in Quebec City on Showtime (7:45 ET/ 4:45 PT) on Saturday night.
The 41-year-old Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) is boxing’s oldest and longest reigning champion entering his clash with the 31-year-old Govzdyk (15-0, 12 KOs), whose unanimous decision over Mehdi Amar in March ended his run of eight consecutive stoppage victories.
Stevenson is 16-0-1 with 14 KOs since his lone loss by second-round stoppage to Darnell Boone in April 2010 that he avenged by sixth-round KO in March 2013. "Superman" is 9-0-1 with seven KOs in championship bouts, including his title-winning 76-second stoppage of Chad Dawson in June 2013.
“I know Gvozdyk is a good boxer. He was a bronze medalist at the Olympics and he has a European style. His movement is good, and he has good technique," said Stevenson, who weighed 174 ¼ compared to Gvozdyk’s 174 ½ on Friday.
"But there are definitely weaknesses that I plan to exploit. I don’t care at all that the bookmakers think I’m going to lose this fight. I’ve been the champion since 2013, and so many people have doubted me in all of my defenses. If I let that affect me, I would have lost my belt a long time ago.”
Known for his left-handed “Superman punch,” Stevenson’s swiftest title defense was a June 2017 one-knockdown, first-round stoppage of Andrzej Fonfara in his eighth defense. The bout was a rematch of Stevenson’s unanimous decision and third defense in May 2014, when Fonfara was floored in the third and fifth rounds but dropped Stevenson in Round 9.
Stevenson wants to avoid going the distance like he did in his last fight in May, battling two-division champion Badou Jack to a draw.
“I am very hungry. I want to win this fight by knockout. My hometown fans don’t come here to watch me fight for 12 rounds,” said Stevenson. “They want to see a body on the canvas. They’re always looking for the knockout and so am I. I know that all I have to do is touch him once and it’s checkmate.”
In the 6-foot-2 Gvozdyk, the 5-foot-11 Stevenson meets a man nicknamed “The Nail” who has “hired the experienced [trainer and commentator] Teddy Atlas to work with him, so he’s coming with a lot of bad intentions,” said Yvon Michel, Stevenson’s promoter.
“It’s going to be a difficult fight for Stevenson because of the quality in Gvozdyk, a young, hungry, undefeated Olympian who has been awaiting this chance for a while and will be well-prepared and not intimidated by Stevenson.”
Gvozdyk’s resume includes knockouts of title challengers Isaac Chilemba and southpaw Tommy Karpency in the eighth and sixth rounds in November and July 2016. Chilemba’s gone the distance in losing majority and unanimous decisions to current WBO titleholder Eleider Alvarez and former champion Sergey Kovalev, while Stevenson scored a third-round stoppage of Karpency, who floored Gvozdyk in the first round.
“I believe I’m ready physically to do what I have to do. I have to be quicker, smarter, more concentrated and always one step ahead of Stevenson. His left hand is the stronger one, but I can’t forget about his right hand, either. Working with Teddy Atlas has been a great experience. He’s been a mentor for me. He’s a very demanding guy who won’t let me get away with a single mistake,” said Gvozdyk.
“That’s exactly what I need. He can help me, tactically, and even physically. We rebuilt our regular training pattern and I believe it will pay off. Despite Stevenson’s age, he’s still a very strong fighter. I know what he’s going to try to do. Like he said at the press conference, he’s going to wait for me to make a mistake and try to catch me. I have to be patient and 100 percent concentrated the entire fight. No blinking.”