RingTV.com caught up with RING/WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson before the explosive-punching Montreal star defends his titles against former IBF beltholder Tavoris Cloud in his hometown on Saturday on HBO.
It looked like an intriguing matchup on paper when hard-punching super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson stepped up light heavyweight to challenge WBC/RING champion Chad Dawson. The smooth skilled champ was looking to re-establish himself at 175 pounds after dropping in weight last year to fight Andre Ward, who stopped him in 10 rounds. Stevenson was on a nice KO run, though not at light heavyweight or against anyone of Dawson’s ability.
However, the intrigue lasted precisely 76 seconds of the opening round when “Superman” landed a vicious left cross dropping Dawson flat on his back. Despite rising before the end of the 10 count, Dawson was in no position to continue with referee Michael Griffin calling a halt to the proceedings.
The win changed everything for the former inmate who recently turned 36.
“(Winning the title) is very important to me,” Stevenson told RingTV.com. “It makes me even more determined to stay on the top. It was a dream come true for me to win the green WBC belt. Being THE RING magazine champion is beautiful because it has only one champion in each division.
On Saturday, Stevenson (21-1 with 18 knockouts), looks to extend his eight-fight knockout streak and make the first defence of his titles when he meets former IBF light heavyweight beltholder Tavoris Cloud.
Stevenson says Cloud is “a good boxer with power” before respectfully adding “I know he lost his last fight (against Bernard Hopkins) but he’ll come back stronger, trying to pressure me to win my title in my hometown, Montreal. I know he’s coming to give everything he has and has worked hard.”
The action, which takes place at The Bell Center in Montreal in front of what will likely be a sizeable and raucous crowd, will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
Anson Wainwright - The last time we saw you was when you shook up the light heavyweight division by knocking out Chad Dawson in the opening round. Tell us about that fight?
Adonis Stevenson - This fight will end the same way, with a knockout. I wasn’t surprised. When I got the opportunity to fight for the world title, I took it. I hit him with a good shot. I practiced throwing that punch a lot during training. Anything like that can happen with power puncher like me.
AW - What did it mean to you when you realized you had won the WBC and THE RING light heavyweight titles?
AS - It is very important to me. It makes me even more determined to stay on the top. It was a dream come true for me to win the green WBC belt. Being THE RING magazine champion is beautiful because it has only one champion in each division.
AW - Going into that fight people would have wondered if you would carry your power from 168 pounds up to 175. You clearly did. What would you say about your power?
AS - Power is power; if you got it like I do, it doesn’t matter if I’m fighting at 168 or 175. I have even more power at 175 because I don’t worry about losing weight. I walk around at 183-184 (pounds). Not worrying about making weight lets me focus more on techniques.
AW - It's time for you to return to action on Saturday against Tavoris Cloud. What are your thoughts on the fight?
AS - Tavoris Cloud is a power puncher. I know he lost his last fight but he’ll come back stronger, trying to pressure me to win my title in my hometown, Montreal. I know he’s coming to give everything he has and has worked hard.
AW - When you look at Cloud, what do you see as his strengths and weaknesses? What did you think of Cloud-Hopkins? What did you learn from that fight that you will bring into this fight?
AS - He’s a good boxer with power. I can’t tell you about his weaknesses but you’ll see when I’m in the ring. Bernard’s a good, smart fighter who used what he saw against Cloud. I watched that fight. Bernard fights safe. I don’t, I fight wars. We have two different styles.
AW - After the Cloud fight, all being well, you have to face Tony Bellew. What is the state of play with that situation?
AS - I’ll wait to see what my people say. I’m focused 100-percent on Cloud right now. I don’t even think about Bellew.
AW - If I can take you back, you have a sordid past. Could you tell us about those times?
AS - Back when I was 18, I had bad people around me. I’m 35 now and have learned that I can’t have bad people around me anymore and I don’t. They bring negativity. I’m different now, more mature.
AW - How did boxing help turn your life around?
AS - Boxing helped a lot. The training and discipline. You can’t go into the ring if you drink or smoke. You need discipline and to live a good, healthy lifestyle. Boxing really helped me and it can help any boxer.
AW - After being a pro a few years you met Emanuel Steward. Can you tell us about that and how he helped improve you as a fighter?
AS - Not only was he a good trainer, he was a good person who gave me a lot of advice about what it takes to be a world champion. He taught me about not losing my money. He helped my confidence, balance and technique. I miss him a lot. Before the Dawson fight, I had a picture of him (Steward) in my room, and I told him I was going to bring back the title. Me and Sugar Hill brought it back to him. He believed in me, that I’d be world champion. Some people didn’t believe in me, now they know why Emanuel Steward saw that I had more than power.
AW - Could you give us your thoughts on each of the fighters ranked by THE RING magazine...
C - Adonis Stevenson - He can be champion for a long time and a favorite. Dedicated to hard training. I want to help people have better lives.
1 - Bernard Hopkins - A different guy. He dedicated himself to boxing. He’s 100-percent healthy. He’s a smart boxer who is educated in the ring. He’s always thinking in the ring and always in shape. That’s why 48 is just a number to him.
2 - Sergey Kovalev - A good boxer who can punch. He’s exciting.
3 - Tavoris Cloud - Another exciting power puncher.
4 - Nathan Cleverly - We saw what happened to him against a power puncher like Kovalev. The light heavyweight division is more popular because of power punches like me, Kovalev and Cloud. Cleverly fought at home against boxers he knew he was going to beat – until Kovalev. I’m sure he learned from that and will come back strong.
5 - Chad Dawson - A good boxing style. He’s a southpaw who is not easy to box. He can come back strong from his knockout against me. Watch out for this guy because he can still beat a lot of the top light heavyweights.
6 - Karo Murat - I don’t know much about him. I think Bernard will beat him.
7 - Tony Bellew - A tough guy who has lost twice, once to Cleverly and I think he really lost the first fight against Chilemba that was a draw. He won the second fight against Chilemba but it wasn’t a ‘wow’ performance. I know he’s my mandatory.
8 - Isaac Chilemba - He has a good style and is a very good boxer. I think he beat Bellew in their first fight. He will be back.
9 - Jurgen Braehmer - I don’t know him very well other than he only fights in Germany. I’ve heard about him but haven’t seen him fight.
10 - Jean Pascal - He’s still very good. He’s No. 10 (THE RING magazine) and fighting on my undercard. He will be back strong against (Lucian) Bute in January.
AW - Away from boxing tell us a little about yourself as a person and what you like to do with your time?
AS - I get great pleasure spending time with my family. I try to spend a lot of time with my three children when I’m not in training.
AW – Lastly, what is your message Cloud and also the light heavyweight division?
AS - You better be prepared and ready for fireworks in Montreal, my hometown, with all my friends there. All the guys at 175 pounds: This is Superman time! I brought excitement to the light heavyweight division.
Photos / Richard Wolowicz-Getty Images
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