Not only is RING/WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson immensely confident that he will come up with his 10th straight knockout victory, and his fourth of the year, on Saturday against Liverpool’s Tony Bellew, but he told RingTV.com that it will happen within six rounds.
A 36-year-old southpaw who is fighting at 175-pounds for only the third straight time, Stevenson (22-1, 19 knockouts) will face Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KOs) at The Pepsi Colesium in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
“I’m in training right now and it’s going very well,” said Stevenson, in an interview with RingTV.com from his training facility at La Chateau Bonne Entente Hotel in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada on Monday.
“I am training right this second and you can be sure that I am going to knock Bellew out. I think that the fight is going to go about four or five rounds and then I’m going to knock him out. It’s going to be with my ‘Superman punch.’ “
Stevenson’s promoter, Yvon Michel, chuckled upon hearing his fighter’s prediction, but he was far from surprised.
“His last 12 wins were knockout wins, so it’s against the odds that Adonis would not predict a knockout for himself. I was talking to his trainer, Sugar Hill, and he has said that Adonis still is improving, even at the age of 36,” said Michel.
“We all know that Adonis Stevenson is a late bloomer, but he is doing things now better than he ever has and he’s still getting better. He has a better boxing IQ than he ever has, and he has become much more of an all-around fighter than he was even a year ago when he beat Donovan George to become the mandatory contender at 168.”
Stevenson floored Donovan George five times on the way to a 12th-round knockout in October of last year, and has reeled off several more impressive triumphs since then.
In March, Stevenson scored a sixth-round stoppage against journeyman Darnell Boone in a super middleweight bout, avenging the Canadian’s second-round knockout loss from April of 2010.
In June, Stevenson rose into the light heavyweight division for a clash of southpaws with Chad Dawson, whom he stopped in 76 seconds with what he called his “Superman punch” to become the RING and WBC 175-pound champion.
“Previously, this year, Adonis had beaten the only guy who got a win against him in Darnell Boone, and that was very, very important. Even when we got the opportunity to fight Dawson, we wanted to cancel the Boone fight,” said Michel.
“But Adonis said, ‘No,’ because he said that it was very, very important for him to get revenge on Darnell Boone. He did not care if that was going to jeopardize his world title fight. That was very important for him to get that win.”
In August — six days after his 36th birthday — Stevenson registered his 10th straight knockout in as many consecutive victories when he out-boxed and out-slugged former IBF titleholder Tavoris Cloud in defense of his belts.
“When he steps into the ring against Bellew, it’s going to be his fourth fight this year, and his third world championship fight in the span of six months. Three fights on HBO,” said Michel.
“I believe that if Adonis Stevenson wins like I believe that he will win this weekend, that he should be a strong contender for the Fighter of The Year because of his accomplishments. Nobody had given him a chance when he fought Chad Dawson.”
Although Dawson had been dropped twice during his previous bout by 10th-round stoppage down at 168 pounds against RING and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward in September of 2012, Dawson had earned THE RING and WBC 175-pound belts prior to that by majority decision over Bernard Hopkins in April of 2012.
“Chad Dawson was the linear WBC champion and the RING light heavyweight champion. He had soundly defeated Bernard Hopkins. After that, everybody said that Adonis Stevenson was going to have a stern test against Tavoris Cloud,” said Michel.
“But he thoroughly outclassed Tavoris Cloud and not only showed his punching power, but his skill, imagination and speed to beat Tavoris Cloud. He showed that he was not just a puncher, but that he was much more than that.”
While Stevenson was in training at Detroit’s famous Kronk Gym for his bout against George, Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward was gravely ill.
Steward died on Oct. 25, but not before declaring Stevenson a future star, and having mentored the anvil-fisted fighter through two previous stoppage victories over Jesus Gonzalez and Noe Gonzales Alcoba.
Hill, Steward’s nephew, is Steven’s primary trainer.
“Sugar Hill has said that he is in a good mood, that he’s training and looking very, very well. We are very, very optimistic about this weekend. Hopefully, he will take care of Tony Bellew impressively this weekend,” said Michel.
“For him to be fighting that many guys at that level in a year, it’s unprecedented. So, hopefully, again, he will win the fight. After that, then his dream fight would be to fight Bernard Hopkins on HBO.”
Last month on Showtime, the 48-year-old Hopkins unanimously decisioned Karo Murat in defense of the IBF belt he won the same way over the previously unbeaten Cloud in March to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown.
Hopkins first set the record at the age of 46 in May of 2011 by outpointing Jean Pascal for the WBC’s 175-pound belt.
“We’ll have to see if this is possible, but he is open to fighting whoever,” said Michel. “He has never been in a position to choose his opponents. He’s taken whoever is there. But he would really like a title unification against Bernard Hopkins. That is what will drive him the most after this fight.”
Kovalev scored his sixth straight knockout in August when he dethroned previously unbeaten Nathan Cleverly with a fourth-round stoppage, flooring Cleverly twice in the third.
Sillakh has won four consecutive bouts since suffering an eighth-round stoppage to Denis Grachev in April of 2012.
Prior to facing Cleverly, Kovalev had third-round stoppages former titleholder Gabriel Campillo and once-beaten Cornelius White in January and June. Kovalev is 10-0-1, with 10 knockouts in his past 11 fights.
Photos by Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org