Lem’s Corner: Stevenson sees a lot of himself in confident challenger Williams

Champion Adonis Stevenson understands the motivation of challenger Thomas Williams Jr. entering their upcoming clash. He was in a similar position as the underdog before capturing his 175-pound title against fellow left-hander Chad Dawson three years ago.

Edwin Rodriguez and Thomas Williams Jr.

Thomas Williams Jr. unloads a left hand during his fight against Edwin Rodriguez on April 30. Williams won by second-round knockout to set up his first world title fight against 175-pound champ Adonis Stevenson. (Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

Although Stevenson had won seven straight fights, all by knockout, entering his June 2013 clash with Dawson, there were questions about his chin in only his second bout after moving up from 168 pounds.

“My motivation was to prove everybody wrong,” said Stevenson, who dethroned Dawson with a 76-second knockout. “I wanted to show everyone who was overlooking me that they were mistaken.”

Now 38, Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs) said he sees himself from three years ago in Williams, against whom the champion is expected to make his seventh title defense next month (final details of the bout have yet to be finalized).

If the matchup happens, it will be the first world title fight for Thomas Williams Jr. (20-1, 14 KOs), and will follow his sensational second-round knockout of Edwin Rodriguez (28-2, 19 KOs) on April 30. It was an impressive victory for Williams, as Rodriguez’s lone previous setback was a unanimous decision loss to then 168-pound champion Andre Ward in November 2013.

“I was shocked that Rodriguez didn’t win, but I know Williams has power. I think Rodriguez underestimated him,” Stevenson said. “You saw that one punch can change anything, and you can get knocked out. So I’m preparing for a man with the mentality of a young, strong, hungry lion.”

Stevenson knows Williams—whose only loss was in August 2014 against former 175-pound champ Gabriel Campillo—will enter the ring brimming with confidence following his crushing victory over Rodriguez.

“Williams will be much more inspired than he was against Campillo, maybe even more than he was against Rodriguez,” Stevenson said. “I know that he’s going to train hard, come hard and fight hard, because I’ve been there. So I’m taking this guy very, very seriously.”

Artur Beterbiev

After improving to 10-0 with 10 knockouts by stopping Ezequeil Maderna on Saturday in Montreal, Artur Beterbiev wants a title shot against either Adonis Stevenson or Sergey Kovalev, two 175-pound champs. (Dave Nadkarni/Premier Boxing Champions)

BETERBIEV EYES STEVENSON OR KOVALEV

Russian slugger Artur Beterbiev (10-0, 10 KOs) is targeting 175-pound champions Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) following his four-knockdown, fourth-round stoppage of Ezequiel Maderna (23-3, 15 KOs) on Saturday night in Montreal.

It was the first time Maderna had been stopped in his career.

“My career goal is to be the champion of the world,” Beterbiev said. “Whether it’s Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson, I don’t care who I have to fight to win it."

While Stevenson prepares to defend his crown against Williams, Kovalev is heavily favored to win his eighth title defense when he faces Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs) on July 11.

Shawn Porter

Shawn Porter celebrates his upset victory over Adrien Broner last June. Porter takes on 147-pound champion Keith Thurman in a highly anticipated bout June 25. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

PORTER KEEN ON BROOK, BRONER REMATCHES

Former 147-pound champion Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) welcomes a return bout with Adrien Broner or a shot at redemption against Kell Brook, if he gets beyond champion Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) on June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

In his last fight in June, Porter rose from a 12th-round knockdown for a unanimous decision over Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) in a 144-pound catchweight bout. The win over Broner, a former four-division champion, represented Porter’s second straight win since a unanimous decision loss to Brook (36-0, 25 KOs) cost him a 147-pound title in August 2014.

“Beating Keith lines me up to fight Kell Brook again, and I’d definitely like a rematch,” Porter said. “I know that fight would play out completely different. But is [Brook] willing to prove himself again?”

As for giving Broner another shot, Porter said he’s willing to do so if the former champ plans on coming up to 147 pounds. Since the Porter loss, Broner has posted consecutive victories over overmatched opponents Khabib Allakhverdiev (unaninmous decision on October 3) and Ashley Theophane (ninth-round TKO on April 1).

Following his victory over Theophane—which came a day after he was stripped of his 140-pound title for failing to make weight—Broner called out the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., his onetime friend who was sitting ringside. Count Porter among those who don’t believe a Mayweather-Broner clash will ever come to pass.

For that matter, Porter doesn’t believe Broner wants another piece of him.

“I don’t see Floyd going after him,” Porter said. “Broner’s got some other questions to answer if he’s returning to 147, but I don’t think he wants to see me or Thurman.”

Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan

Erislandy Lara successfully defended his 154-pound title last month with a victory over Vanes Martirosyan. One fighter hoping to challenge Lara next is unbeaten contender Demetrius Andrade, who fights Willie Nelson on Saturday. (Amanda Westcott/Showtime)

ANDRADE PROMISES ‘TO SET THE ROOF ON FIRE’ AGAINST NELSON

Former champion Demetrius Andrade was quite interested in the May 21 tripleheader of 154-pound title bouts, highlighted by Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) defending his crown by winning a unanimous decision in his rematch against Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs).

Also that night, Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) won a vacant title via eighth-round TKO over John Jackson (20-3, 15 KOs), and moments later, his 26-year-old twin brother Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) successfully defended his championship by unanimous decision over former titleholder Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs).

That action served as a precursor to Andrade (22-0, 15 KOs) facing contender Willie Nelson (25-2-1, 15 KOs) at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

A victory over Nelson figures to put Andrade in the mix for a title shot against Lara or one of the Charlo twins. And the 28-year-old Providence, Rhode Island, native doesn’t plan to stop there, as he has designs on unifying the 154-pound division.

“I am ready to set the roof on fire on June11,” said Andrade, 28, who will face Nelson on the undercard of a main event between high-powered volume punchers John Molina Jr. (28-6, 23 KOs) and former champion Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs). “Once everyone at 154 gets a taste of me, they will know I’m the greatest.”

Lem’s Corner is published each Wednesday at PremierBoxingChampions.com.

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