By Jake Donovan
Two notable boxers of Haitian descent are involved in action this weekend. An upset occurring in either fight would go down among the most shocking in-ring results in recent memory.
Whereas Andre Berto—a Haitian-American raised in Florida—faces a major uphill battle in Saturday’s challenge of World welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas, Adonis Stevenson is a heavy betting favorite in Friday’s showdown with Tommy Karpency.
The bout marks the sixth defense of the World light heavyweight title for Stevenson, who insists he is leaving nothing to chance in their Premier Boxing Champions on Spike TV-televised headliner Friday evening in Toronto, Canada.
“It's his second chance for a world title. He made mistakes the first time and he's worked on that,” Stevenson (26-1, 21KOs) says of Karpency, a longtime journeyman who hit the jackpot with a 10-round upset win over Chad Dawson last October. “I expect that he believes he's going to win. I don't underestimate Tommy Karpency. I'm ready to win. I’m prepared for anything; there won’t be any surprises.”
Stevenson delivered a surprise with his one-punch 1st round knockout of Chad Dawson to claim the World light heavyweight crown in June ’13. The win was part of a 2013 campaign in which many publications recognized the Haitian southpaw—now based out of Canada—as Fighter of the Year.
His run since then has been surprising only in the manner in which it has leveled off. His win over Andrzej Fonfara last May has looked much better after the fact, thanks to Fonfara’s post title-challenge accomplishments. The same cannot be said of Dmitry Sukhotsky and Sakio Bika, nor has there been much buzz regarding tonight’s matchup.
Still, it’s worth noting that Karpency comes in having won four straight, including a major upset in a 10-round decision win over Dawson last October. The Midwestern U.S. product boasts a sturdy chin and doesn’t figure to go anywhere, even against a Kronk-bred knockout artist like Stevenson.
That’s perfectly fine with the defending champion.
“You know, if it goes 12 rounds I don't mind,” Stevenson insists, even if a statement his former trainer, the late Emanuel Steward—or even current chief second and Steward’s nephew Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill—wouldn’t necessarily want to hear. “I train for 12 rounds, but I always look for the knockout. If I don't get him, we can box, we can move, and we can jab.
“One way or another, he's going to get beat big. Whether knockout or decision, I will be at my very best and entertain the fans every second of the fight.”
The one fight for which many still clamor is a showdown with undefeated and unified light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev. The two were on a collision course at one point, but for the past 18 months (and counting) have found ways to blame the other side for such a fight never materializing.
Stevenson insists a fight he would very much prefer to happen, although of the understanding that it’s realistically not worth discussing for the rest of the year. Kovalev will fight later this year in his native Russia on a show that likely won’t land on U.S. TV.
“They said Mayweather would never fight (Manny) Pacquiao, and look what happened,” Stevenson notes in his way of urging fans to not lose hope. “I very much want to fight Kovalev. Let him get his fights out of the way, facing pizza delivery guys and whoever else he wants to beat up before they are ready to sit down and seriously talk about fighting.”
After having fought just twice in 2014, Stevenson enters just his second fight of this year. With his preparation he believes a big and clean enough win will come to where he doesn’t have to wait until 2016 to receive his next paycheck.
Of course, he has to win tonight and leave the big upsets to his Haitian brother fighting tomorrow night.
“I'm hungry. I'm always ready to defend my title,” Stevenson insists. “Anyone that Al Haymon (with whom Stevenson signed last year) puts in the ring with me, I'm ready. I hope for a third fight this year, stay hungry and keep busy.
“My motivation to keep busy drove me to put in the hard work for this fight with (Karpency), so that I can take his best, win big and return as soon as possible.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com