By Keith Idec
Badou Jack smiled as Adonis Stevenson strolled around the stage Thursday and predicted Jack’s demise.
Moments later, after Stevenson again promised to knock him out Saturday night, Jack became serious. Stevenson is typically considered the more powerful puncher entering their light heavyweight title bout, but Jack thinks some people are looking at their intriguing matchup the wrong way.
“He can work on his excuses right now,” Jack said, “because I’m gonna knock him out.”
When the moderator of their press conference in Toronto reminded Jack that Stevenson is “one of the hardest hitters in the business,” Jack questioned what will happen when he lands against the defending champion.
“Yeah,” Jack said, “but the question is – he can give it, right? But can he take it?”
The 40-year-old Stevenson has knocked out 80 percent of his professional opponents, a much higher ratio than Jack, who has beaten 52 percent of his pro foes by knockout. Stevenson has won 14 bouts during his 16-fight winning streak by knockout and promised to extend that string Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
“Emmanuel Steward always told me, ‘Knockouts sell. Knockouts sell. Just get in the ring and knock the guy out,’ ” Stevenson said Thursday, referring to his late trainer. “So that’s what I’m gonna do. This is the Kronk Gym preparation, you know, training and training for the knockout.
“I can go 12 rounds. I can box. It’s not a problem for me. But the first thing is the knockout. And that’s what I’m looking for, for the knockout.”
Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) is slightly favored to beat Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) in a 12-round, 175-pound title bout Showtime will air as the main event of a split-site doubleheader Saturday night.
Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, will defend his WBC featherweight title against mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-0, 14 KOs), of Downey, California, in the opener of Showtime’s two-bout broadcast (10:05 p.m. ET). The Russell-Diaz fight will take place at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.