12 Rounds With … Adonis Stevenson

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With 23 knockouts in 29 career fights, Adonis Stevenson is undoubtedly one of boxing’s most feared punchers. But the longtime 175-pound world champion is so much more than just a seek-and-destroy knockout artist.

Adonis Stevenson

Reigning 175-pound champion Adonis Stevenson on a potential title unification bout against either Andre Ward or Sergey Kovalev: "I know I will win that fight." (Dave Nadkarni/Premier Boxing Champions)

For instance, fight fans might be surprised to learn that Adonis “Superman” Stevenson has a knack for business and marketing, and that he’s long been sympathetic to the plight of the poor. Then there’s his affinity for a particular 1970s R&B/soul act, as well as his admiration for one of the most timeless of performance arts—one not often associated with boxers.

We discovered all this, and much more, when we recently went 12 rounds with the 39-year-old Haiti native and longtime resident of Quebec, Canada.

Who is the one boxer in history you wish you could’ve fought, and how do you think that fight would’ve played out?

I would have liked to test my skills against Sugar Ray Robinson. He is one of the best boxers—if not the best—ever. He was a machine and a destroyer, and he had a lot of skills that many others haven’t had. I don’t know if I could beat him. Sure, I would want to win, but I don’t know. … He was a machine.

Who is your boxing hero?

Muhammad Ali. He was a showman who was talented in the ring, backed up what he said he would do, and he [insisted] that he would not fight for less than $1 million.

Muhammad Ali took the sport of boxing to another level, and he set the standard for all of us.

Last month marked the fourth anniversary of the passing of Emanuel Steward, the Hall of Fame trainer and your mentor who died of cancer. How often do you think about him, and what did he mean to you?

Emanuel Steward was always there for me. He was the first person who told me that I could be a world champion and that I could be a superstar in boxing. He changed my life, and he’s always there in my heart.

Javan “Sugar Hill” Steward [Emanuel's nephew] is my trainer now, and we always have a picture of Emanuel in the dressing room before a fight. When I’m getting ready and warming up with Sugar Hill, we always look at that picture. We walk into the ring, and we feel that he’s still there.

Emanuel Steward also was the one who told me that knockouts sell, and that’s why every time I go into the ring, I go for the knockout.

I love to throw my left hand, and when I land it the right way, it’s over. It’s finished. I have the best left hand on the market. Adonis Stevenson

Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would be …

… an entrepreneur in business. I would be doing some type of marketing, maybe a cellphone company. I know marketing and business very well.

What’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit by another fighter?

There was a sparring partner when I first started as an amateur boxer in Brooklyn at Gleason’s Gym. I don’t remember his name, but he caught me with a good shot that shook me. It was a hard right hand, and when he caught me, I shook my head and it was like, “Welcome to boxing.”

What’s the one guilty pleasure that is the toughest to give up when training for a fight?

McDonald’s. [Laughs.] It’s good food, and it’s fast. French fries—I love French fries. I love McChicken. When I’m training I can’t eat any of that. When I’m training, Sugar Hill cooks for me. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke or anything else.

Speaking of training, what are your favorite and least favorite exercises?

I love situps, because you really work the core of your body, and that’s where your power comes from. I hate pushups, because you have to use your wrists a lot.

What is your favorite punch to throw?

That would be my left hand—my Superman punch. I love to throw my left hand, and when I land it the right way, it’s over. It’s finished. I have the best left hand on the market.

That’s the one that I landed on Chad Dawson [in June 2013], and the fight was over in 76 seconds and I became the lineal world champion. I shocked the world.

What’s the one thing fight fans don’t understand about boxing that you wish they did?

They don’t know about all of the politics of boxing or have [an appreciation] for what goes on within the sport. The public wants certain fights, and when those fights don’t happen, they’re disappointed. But they don’t happen because of the politics.

Sometimes, it’s the promoters’ fault, but the boxers get the blame. It’s not always the boxers. There are a lot of things that go into it, and the average fans don’t realize that.

What is your favorite boxing movie?

Rocky, baby. That’s the first boxing movie I ever watched. Sylvester Stallone is a good actor, and the training he did in the movie was amazing.

If Hollywood made a flim about your life, what actor would best portray you?

I like the movie Creed, and I would have that actor, Michael B. Jordan, portray me. He played the main character, whose name was Adonis Johnson, and that was the story of Adonis Stevenson, completely.

They took my first name, and they took the same part of my story when my father passed away while my mother was pregnant with me—in the movie, [Adonis Johnson’s] father died when his mother was pregnant with him. My father was into karate and his father, Apollo Creed, was also a fighter.

Ironically, in Creed, Sylvester Stallone’s character, Rocky—who was Michael B. Jordan’s trainer—gets diagnosed with cancer, and my trainer, Emanuel Steward, passed away from cancer. So there were a lot of similarities to my story, and not just my first name.

What was your first car?

A Ford Taurus, and it was an old, old car. I was 17.

What is your favorite car?

I’ve got six cars: a Ferrari Spider, a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, a Yukon Denali, a Mercedes G550 and a Lamborghini. I love the Spider the most.

Who is the one artist that fans would be surprised to find on your iPod?

That would have to be Earth, Wind & Fire. My favorite song is “September.” I love that song.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Cindy Crawford. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when I first started liking her.

Finish this sentence: Fight fans would be surprised to know …

… that I like opera music. I love opera, and one day I would like to go to an opera.

You’re a proud native of Haiti, which recently endured another devastating natural disaster with Hurricane Matthew. In what ways can you help your homeland?

I have already sent donations, and I would like to sit down with the Haitian [government] and discuss a plan to help the people over there, especially the kids.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

The lives of all of the poor people. In a perfect world, everybody would be able to go to school, get an education and have enough food to eat.

What is on your bucket list?

Well, you know Andre Ward is fighting Sergey Kovalev on November 19, and I would like to fight the winner and unify the title. I’m the lineal [175-pound] champion, so everything has to go through me. I need all of the titles, so it’s time to make that fight happen.

I think Ward versus Kovalev is a 50-50 fight, so I’m not sure who wins. But the fans want to know who the best light heavyweight champion is, and whether it’s Ward or Kovalev, I know I will win that fight.

“12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: 154-pound title challenger Julian Williams.

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