With greater exposure comes greater opportunity.
The last time Darnell Boone and Adonis Stevenson met, it was on a small untelevised club show in Salisbury, Md. Stevenson, then an undefeated but untested 13-0, was promptly knocked out by a single overhand right in the second round of the fight.
Due to the where and the when, the win garnered Boone little fanfare.
When the two meet Friday night in Montreal, it’ll be the televised headliner of a WealthTV broadcast with Stevenson on the verge of a world title challenge.
Tough journeyman Boone (19-20-3, 8 KOs) told Boxing Monthly in their May 2012 edition that the biggest purse he’d ever earned was the $12,500 he’d received to fight Anthony Thompson in 2006.
That fight was a headlining fight of Showtime’s prospect series, ShoBox. On Friday night, though he wouldn’t share exact numbers, Boone says he’ll receive a substantial bump for a career-high payday.
Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs), will be looking to avenge the lone blemish on his record.
“He came straight forward to me, trying to walk me down and tried to bully me around and get me in the corners to try to bang me out,” Boone said of his first encounter with Stevenson in a phone interview with RingTV on Wednesday.
“I had hit him with two shots, an uppercut and a hook, before the first round had ended. I don’t think he really recovered from those shots. When he came out for the second round, and I hit him with a flash jab and hit him with an overhand right. That was that.”
Boone told RingTV he took that fight on two weeks’ notice and was training himself. For this fight, he’s had a seven-and-a-half week training camp, a luxury he’s never had for any previous bout.
“They just called me,” said Boone, referring to the first fight. “By him being 13-0, I just figured he couldn’t be that experienced so I took the fight. I didn’t know nothing about him. I really don’t like watching film because they never really fight the same. They might do certain things the same but they don’t fight any two people the same.”
It isn’t often a network will put a guy with as lopsided a record as Boone’s in their main event, regardless of that fighter’s experience. In doing so, WealthTV, a relatively new player in the boxing game, has opened up a major opportunity for Boone to make an impression.
“(Me being in the main event) lets me know that somebody in this network probably did their homework and said this fight is a must-see and we need to put it on. That this guy can actually fight, regardless of his record.”
Early in his career, Boone dropped undefeated RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward with a nasty uppercut. If the bell hadn’t sounded seconds later, Ward might have something other than a “0” in the loss column.
And Ward is far from the only capable operator Boone has tangled with. That list includes Jean Pascal, Erislandy Lara, Sergey Kovalev, Edwin Rodriguez, Brian Vera, Enrique Ornelas, Jesus Gonzales, Curtis Stevens, Craig McEwan, Brandon Gonzales, Marco Antonio Periban, and Dyah Davis. Most of those losses were achieved via majority or split decision and were extremely questionable.
While many of Boone’s most controversial losses and greatest triumphs have occurred away from the limelight of television, having his rematch with Stevenson find its way into a televised main event is big news.
The last time Boone stopped Stevenson, he was coming off five straight losses. The win only got him more short-notice offers to face young, undefeated fighters.
A win over a world ranked Stevenson, who is in talks to challenge RING light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson later in the year, would surely open more doors. Still, Boone worries that nothing will change.
“We figure, I beat him again, it’ll go back to people calling me on short notice,” said Boone.
“It has to be between me and my management team to say, ‘No, we aren’t going to take that on short notice.’ And that’s been most of my losses, came from not having the right preparation time or the right training. For this camp, I had a great camp, great sparring partners… I’m feeling at the top of my game. Even though I’ve had all these fights, I feel like I haven’t been this ready before.”
The one other difference for the rematch is the weight. Their first fight took place at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds, where Boone has earned the majority of his big wins. For this fight, it’ll be contested at a catchweight of 173 pounds. It has been floated out there this is so Stevenson can acclimate himself to the weight before a possible challenge against Dawson in June.
“The contract was supposed to be for 168,” said Boone, who thinks they are fighting at 173 to “give Stevenson an advantage.” Most of Boone’s recent losses have occurred closer to the light heavyweight limit than the super middleweight one.
For Boone, he’s never been able to prepare as he has for this fight. At 33 years old, he is surprisingly two years younger than Stevenson. That said, Boone has been in the fire many more times than his opponent. We’ll find out on Friday if that experience has left Boone worn out, or if it will force history to repeat itself.
Mark Ortega is the boxing columnist for the Martinez News-Gazette and is a member of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America and the RING Ratings Advisory Panel. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com as well as followed on Twitter @MarkEOrtega.