It’s dinnertime on a recent Friday evening, and Adonis Stevenson is serving up some alter-ego soup.
“Outside of the ring, I’m Clark Kent,” he says, punctuating the thought with an exclamation-point-of-a-laugh as big as his left hook. “But when I get in the ring, I’m Superman.”
Tommy Karpency does.
The Pennsylvania native has taken to calling himself “Kryptonite” in advance of his 175-pound title fight with Stevenson on Friday.
Superhero fixations aside, Adonis Stevenson (26-1, 21 KOs) and Tommy Karpency (25-4-1, 14 KOs) are united in a more significant way: Both made names for themselves all over the face of former 175-pound kingpin Chad Dawson.
And each was a heavy underdog when he did so.
Dawson was an 8-1 favorite when he got crushed by Stevenson’s aforementioned left hook in the first round of their short-lived June 2013 throwdown, which sent Dawson crashing down to the ground with enough force to awaken local seismographs.
Dawson somehow got to his feet, but it was as if he was a passenger in his own body, riding shotgun as some drunk guy steered his staggering frame into the ropes, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
With that career-making win, Stevenson became the lineal 175-pound champ in his mid-30s.
Karpency didn’t defeat Dawson in such electrifying fashion—athough, like Stevenson, he was similarly unheralded when he took on the former champ in October, banging out a split-decision victory.
The win helped position Karpency for another title shot, the first coming in 2012 when he was shutout in a unanimous-decision loss to Nathan Cleverly.
Having once been in Karpency’s shoes facing off against a heavily favored champ, it’s now Stevenson’s turn to avoid getting bitten by the underdog.
“Karpency is a good boxer. He’s fast,” Stevenson says. “This is his second fight for a world title. The first time, he made a mistake, so I know that he will be well prepared. He will be hungry.”
In Karpency, Stevenson faces a fellow left-hander for the first time since he sent Dawson into orbit two years ago.
“I will be patient with him because he’s a southpaw,” Stevenson says. “But you know I’m looking for the knockout. As soon as he makes a mistake, I will knock him out.”
Having fought all but two of his pro bouts in the Canadian province of Quebec, Stevenson will be traveling west to make his Toronto debut, looking to help grow the sport outside of the well-established boxing hotbeds of Montreal and Quebec City.
In doing so, Stevenson will teaming up with friend, fellow Canadian and former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, who’s helping promote the fight, for which Stevenson came in at 175 pounds at Thursday's weigh-in, with Karpency tipping the scales at 174.5.
“Lennox wants the same thing, to build boxing in Canada,” Stevenson explains.
Lewis has been a mentor to Stevenson, advising him on matters both in and out of the ring.
“He’s given me good advice about my money and training, too,” Stevenson says. “Lennox is very intelligent, very smart. He’s still got his money. He’s a businessman. He’s a good example for me.”
Stevenson knows that he and Lewis will be challenged to cultivate a broader boxing fan base in their hockey-mad homeland. But he’s also quick to remind us that he’s faced long odds before, cutting them down to size with the dash of a left hand.
“Don’t forget I was 35 years old when I became champion,” he says. “Everybody said it was impossible. And then I made it possible.”
For full coverage of Stevenson vs Karpency, visit our fight page.