Stevenson views mobility as key to beating ‘dangerous’ Williams

Adonis Stevenson is two months shy of his 39th birthday, but that doesn’t mean the 175-pound world champion requires a cane to make the walk to the ring.

Adonis Stevenson and Tommy Karpency

Adonis Stevenson defeated Tommy Karpency (left) by third-round TKO last September, then hired Karpency as a sparring partner as he trains for next week’s 175-pound title defense against Thomas Williams Jr. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

In fact, even though he’ll give up a decade in age to fellow southpaw Thomas Williams Jr. (20-1, 14 KOs) when the two clash on July 29 at Centre Videotron in Quebec City (Spike, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs) expects his legs to carry him to victory in his seventh title defense.

And fresh legs at that, as Stevenson has been idle since his third-round TKO of Tommy Karpency in September.

“Adonis hasn’t lost a step, so there are no problems with his legs,” says Javan “Sugar Hill” Steward, who trains the man known as “Superman.” “That’s one of the things people are going to see him prove in this fight—he’s going to have to show that movement against a hungry, younger guy.”

Stevenson agrees with his trainer, as he expects Williams to be as tough a challenger as he’s faced since defeating Chad Dawson by first-round KO in June 2013 to become a world champ.

“Thomas Williams is a dangerous opponent with power who is young, hungry and he has a lot of motivation,” says the native of Haiti and longtime resident of Quebec, Canada. “I can go toe-to-toe, but I can also show my boxing skills and my IQ.

“Anything Thomas Williams brings, I’m ready for it.”

Ironically, Stevenson solicited the services of his last opponent to get ready for Williams. Karpency (26-5-1, 15 KOs) is among Stevenson’s trio of left-handed sparring partners, along with 175-pound prospect Earl Newman (9-0, 7 KOs) and former 175-pound title challenger Blake Caparello (22-2-1, 6 KOs).

“They’ve given us very good work,” Steward says. “Earl switches from right hand to left hand effectively, and he was in camp to prepare Adonis for Karpency.”

Adonis is going to have to box Williams and try not to get hit with anything big, because he’ll be the most dangerous puncher he’s fought. Javan "Sugar Hill” Steward, trainer for Adonis Stevenson

Against Williams, Steward is hoping to see a Stevenson similar to the one who scored consecutive seventh- and sixth-round TKOs of former champion Tavoris Cloud and current 200-pound titleholder Tony Bellew in September and November 2013, respectively.

In what were his first and second title defenses, Stevenson became the first man to stop both Cloud and Bellew.

“Tavoris Cloud was another guy who was known to be a big puncher,” Steward says. “But Adonis was able to avoid all of those shots and shut him down, and he’s grown into a better fighter since then.”

Williams is coming off a second-round knockout of Edwin Rodriguez on April 30. In handing Rodriguez just his second career loss—and first by stoppage—Williams won his third consecutive fight since being stopped by Gabriel Campillo in the fifth round in August 2014.

As is frequently the case when Williams fights, the 28-year-old from Fort Washington, Maryland, got tagged with some vicious shots by Rodriguez in the first and second rounds. Although Williams remained upright in the face of those heavy punches, he did hit the deck in the first round of his previous fight against Humberto Savigne.

Williams ended up winning the knockdown contest 2-1 against Savigne, prevailing by second-round TKO. Similarly, in January 2014, Williams dropped Cornelius White twice but also got floored once himself in a scintillating first-round stoppage win.

In other words, Williams has a propensity to get as good as he gives.

“Thomas Williams is most dangerous when he’s hurt and in a tough predicament,” Steward says. “So that’s something that we have to be aware of.”

In addition to his world championship belt, Stevenson will carry a 14-fight winning streak into the ring against Williams, with 12 of those victories coming before the final bell. During this stretch, only Andrzej Fonfara (May 2014) and Sakio Bika (April 2015) have taken Stevenson the distance, and both fell by unanimous decision.

That said, Stevenson had to rise from a ninth-round knockdown against Fonfara. Also, in his lone defeat in April 2010, Stevenson fell by TKO to Darnell Boone just 17 seconds into Round 2.

“Chad Dawson, Sakio Bika or not even Fonfara was known for being as big of a puncher as Thomas Williams,” Steward said. “Adonis is going to have to box Williams and try not to get hit with anything big, because he’ll be the most dangerous puncher he’s fought.”

For full coverage of Stevenson vs Williams, check out our fight page.

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