Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara II: A true make-or-break fight
Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (173.6 pounds) and Andrzej Fonfara (174.2) made weight yesterday in Montreal, Quebec, making tonight’s Showtime (9:00 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT) main event at the Bell Centre officially for the Haitian-Canadian’s WBC light heavyweight title.
“I’m ready because I know Fonfara is dangerous,” said Stevenson at Tuesday’s media workout. “We’re not underestimating him. I’ve prepared for everything. Everything he brings in the ring, I’ll be ready for it.”
Stevenson, 28-1 (23), should know what Fonfara brings to the table considering he’s already beaten him. The unanimous decision win three years ago was a clear victory for Stevenson but more competitive than expected, all thanks to a late right hand that staggered Stevenson to the canvas for a knockdown.
“I won the first fight and I know (Fonfara) very well,” reiterated Stevenson. “I know what he can do. I know he changed trainers. Virgil Hunter brings a lot of experience. I know he trains Andre Ward and I know he’s very intelligent.”
Fonfara, 29-4 (17), a Polish import from Chicago, Illinois, took full advantage of scoring that one knockdown against the lineal heavyweight champion. It got him recognition and, soon enough, he was headlining on Showtime to eventually stop Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and later beating Nathan Cleverly in a thriller.
“I’m always a fighter that goes forward and pushes guys back but I am now ready to fight backwards if I need to. I’ll show the best Andrzej Fonfara this time,” said Fonfara at the same media workout. “I’m a much smarter fighter now. Mentally, I’m much strong and smarter.”
That last statement has much to do with the one fight that abruptly halted Fonfara’s rise after the Cleverly win. Joe Smith Jr. turned out not to be such an Average Joe and Fonfara was wrecked by the part-time construction worker in one swift round.
“I bettered myself. Virgil (Hunter) has taught me a lot of new stuff. Some things worked in my last fight with Chad Dawson; some things didn’t. But that was our first fight together. Now I’m ready to show everything in this fight.” Fonfara forced a stoppage of Dawson in the 10th and final round last March and referee David Fields’ decision to call a halt to that bout with Dawson on his feet prevented what seemed to be a close fight from going to the cards.
“I’m going to win the fight,” proclaimed Fonfara, whose second shot at the title will come against the man who dashed those dreams the first time around. “A world title is the only thing I’ve never had. I’ve imagined raising my hand after the fight and becoming the new WBC champion.”
Of course, Dawson was the victim to Stevenson’s powerful left hand that blew him out within moments of the first bell going off in their 2013 match-up. Stevenson, 39, has yet to fully capitalize from that thrilling knockout, as far as legacies are concerned; however, when it comes to his bank account, it’s the other way around, since signing with Al Haymon and fighting for his Premier Boxing Champions franchise.
“This fight will be different,” stated Stevenson. “I expect a knockout. I hurt my hand in our first fight but now I’m fully healthy and I expect to knock him out. I’m training for the knockout. Emanuel Steward always told me ‘Knockouts sell.’ When I get in the ring, I’m going for a knockout. It’s not an option for me to go 12 rounds.”
Should he accomplish that feat tonight, Stevenson will likely produce a highlight reel KO that rekindles a flame of imagination that reminds the light heavyweight division how much of a threat Superman is at 175 pounds. He’s done so in his last two fights against Thomas Williams Jr. and Tommy Karpency but, along with merely living up to an expectation of beating those fringe contenders, memories of his knockouts are short-lived. That’ll probably be the case again, should Stevenson dismantle Fonfara tonight. Among other things, all this can be blamed on a match-up that’ll take place two weeks from tonight.
The rematch of IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev is quite the opposite of tonight’s. It being anticipated, for one, and the rehash being necessary, a close second.
“My goal is to unify the titles with the winner of Kovalev and Ward.” said Stevenson about a fight that would completely unify the division and crown an undisputed champion. “I want the unification but, if not, I’ll make my mandatory. If Ward wins, I want to fight him. If Kovalev wins, I want to fight him. I’m ready.”
The chance to be that mandatory will be decided in the opening bout of the Showtime telecast tonight. Eleider Alvarez takes on Jean Pascal but the Colombian has seemingly already been a mandatory for Stevenson for quite some time now, so he’s basically fighting to keep his spot in line. Stevenson (-1250) and Alvarez (-485) are favored to win tonight and, should the oddsmakers remain correct, everything regarding their careers will remain the same as it was this morning.
This begs the question as to why these two aren’t fighting each other tonight but the year of 2017 is as thrilling as it has been unexpected so far, which gives just enough interest to tune in and watch. Yet, barring a massive upset – especially a knockout of Stevenson – whatever happens tonight will only remain in the memory banks for two weeks.