“Superman” is on the phone, currently engaged in the one thing he does with almost as much relish as belting opponents in the face: talking up his return to the ring.
“My fights are always exciting,” says 175-pound world champion Adonis Stevenson, he of the self-anointed superhero nickname. “The fans will see ‘Superman’ give a good show.”
Stevenson’s speaking—passionately—about his April 4 showdown with former 168-pound champ Sakio Bika, which will headline the inaugural Premier Boxing Champions card on CBS. It will be the first regularly scheduled boxing series to air on the network in 15 years.
It’s a big platform for an even bigger puncher: 21 of Stevenson’s 25 wins have come by knockout, many of them sudden and spectacular, akin to the rapid, explosive collapse of a detonated building.
Stevenson’s ascension to the top of the 175-pound division in recent years has been a remarkable one: A late bloomer to the sport, he didn’t even turn pro until he was 29.
Born in Haiti but raised in Canada, where his family relocated when he was 6 years old, Stevenson, 37, was little known outside of his adopted homeland when he made a career-changing trip to Detroit’s famed Kronk Gym in 2012.
Stevenson, a man who laughs easy and hits hard, chuckles when recalling the words used to dismiss him upon his arrival: “Fresh meat.”
That’s what some of the other Kronk fighters branded him back then.
And then Stephenson got in the ring and promptly knocked out a pair of sparring partners, catching the eye of Kronk founder and late, great trainer Emanuel Steward.
“The first time Emanuel Steward saw me, he said that I would become a world champion,” Stevenson recalls through a French accent.
In June 2013, Stevenson would do just that, taking Chad Dawson’s title in a devastating first-round KO.
Stevenson has successfully defended his title four times since then, and now turns to the rugged Bika, who first made a name for himself by winning Season 3 of boxing reality TV show The Contender in 2007.
“Bika is a tough customer,” Stevenson says. “He’s a former world champion. He’s never been knocked out. He’s very solid. I know Bika is coming to fight.”
He’s not the only one.