Long-reigning WBC light heavyweight champion looks to make his ninth title defense against former two-division titleholder tomorrow night on Showtime.
Adonis Stevenson has heard and read the constant criticism.
He’s too old. He doesn’t fight nearly enough. He has ducked Sergey Kovalev and other elite light heavyweights during a championship reign that has lasted almost five years.
Stevenson intends to silence skeptics far and wide tomorrow night when he battles Badou Jack in what has been billed as his most difficult fight since he stunningly stopped Chad Dawson in the first round to win the WBC 175-pound championship in June 2013. The 40-year-old Stevenson is only a slight favorite over Jack entering their 12-round championship match on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
A confident Stevenson still expects their fight to end the same way all but two of his 16 consecutive victories have concluded — by knockout or technical knockout.
“I’m always going for the knockout,” Stevenson said. “I’m still ready for 12 rounds, but I want the stoppage every time. I’m hungry for knockouts. If Badou comes in aggressive, this could end very quickly. You have to step in the ring with me to understand my power. If I connect right just one time, that’s it — lights out. We train specifically for knockouts. You’ll have to wait and see how I do it on May 19.”
Jack’s lone loss was a first-round, technical knockout defeat to underdog Derek Edwards in February 2014.
The Swedish-born, Las Vegas-based Jack got caught cold and went down from a short right hand just 22 seconds into that scheduled 10-rounder. Jack never recovered, got dropped a second time and before he knew what hit him had suffered his first defeat.
A rejuvenated Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) has been down only once in seven fights since Edwards stopped him. He overcame a first-round knockdown and dropped James DeGale in the 12th round of a super middleweight title unification fight that resulted in a draw 16 months ago.
Overall, however, Jack has remarkably rebuilt his career since losing to Edwards (27-8-1, 14 KOs), who lost by third-round knockout to Stevenson in April 2011.
The 34-year-old Jack is 6-0-1 since Edwards defeated him. He also has won the WBC world super middleweight and WBA world light heavyweight titles along the way.
Jack dominated Wales’ Nathan Cleverly on his way to fifth-round stoppage in his last fight. He relinquished the WBA title he won from Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) almost immediately to get the shot at Stevenson he has long sought.
“ I’m hungry for knockouts. If Badou comes in aggressive, this could end very quickly. You have to step in the ring with me to understand my power. ” WBC light heavyweight World Champ Adonis Stevenson
“I asked for the Adonis Stevenson fight a long time ago and the Cleverly fight got me there,” Jack said. “We’ve been talking to [promoter] Floyd [Mayweather] a long time about this fight. He’s a man of his word and he always said that I was going to fight Stevenson. I’m grateful for what he’s done and now I just have to take advantage of the opportunity.”
While Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) is undeniably one of boxing’s most powerful punchers, Jack expects his size, skill and experience against better opposition in recent years to work to his advantage.
Stevenson will be the sixth straight current or former world champion Jack will face.
“Adonis is definitely my toughest opponent on paper, but that doesn’t really mean he will be the toughest on fight night,” Jack said. “Adonis has always fought everyone put in front of him and I respect that. He’s definitely a good fighter, but I’m a better fighter.
“Everyone knows about his power, but he has good skills and overall can do everything you need to in the ring. I am excited to fight him and beat him.”
Stevenson seems eager to prove himself against a top opponent. He has drawn criticism for facing Andrzej Fonfara in a rematch June 3 in Montreal, just two fights after Fonfara was stopped in the first round by Joe Smith Jr.
Stevenson stopped Fonfara in the second round nearly a year ago and hasn’t fought since that night. The intelligent, technically sound Jack should give Stevenson a much tougher test than that, but Stevenson doesn’t appear all that concerned.
“I’m the king at light heavyweight,” Stevenson said. “I beat the king to become the king. I know that I’ve accomplished some great things, and me and my team plan to continue to do everything we can to stay on top. I’m the best fighter in the division — period. When I win on May 19, I’ll just be doing my job. People might still talk trash, but I’ll still be the champ.”
For a closer look at Stevenson vs Jack, check out our fight page.