When Adonis Stevenson steps inside the ring at the Bell Center in Montreal, Canada on Saturday to defend his RING and WBC light heavyweight titles against Andrzej Fonfara, THE RING’s Fighter of the Year for 2013 does so with a couple of additions to his team, namely Al Haymon as his manager.
The 36-year-old Haitian-Canadian says there was a very simple reason became the latest client of Haymon.
“Al Haymon is the best at what he does,” Stevenson told RingTV.com. “I am happy to be with the best manager in the world.”
The move scuppered a much-anticipated unification bout with WBO beltholder Sergey Kovalev that was touted for later this year when – as most Haymon clients do – Stevenson announced that his next fight would be on Showtime instead of HBO.
Stevenson describes the move as a business one.
“I owe a lot to HBO for giving me my first real chance when they approved the (title-winning fight vs. Chad) Dawson and after they gave me two more dates,” he said “After I won ‘Fighter of the Year,’ HBO made me a good offer but Showtime came with a better offer.”
If all goes well against Fonfara the heavy handed Stevenson (23-1, 20 knockouts) seems primed to meet IBF/WBA titleholder Bernard Hopkins this fall.
“Since becoming champion and even before that, I always wanted to fight Hopkins,” he said.
Stevenson-Fonfara headlines the Showtime telecast, which also includes an interesting middleweight crossroads bout between big punching David Lemieux and former world title challenger Fernando Guerrero.
AW – Since we last spoke there have been several changes to your career, notably now you’re fighting over at Showtime and no longer on HBO. Can you tell us about this from your point of view?
AS – This is only a business move. I owe a lot to HBO for giving me my first real chance when they approved the fight with Dawson and after they gave me two more dates. After I won ‘Fighter of the Year,’ HBO made me a good offer but Showtime came with a better offer.
AW – You also signed managerial forms with Al Haymon?
AS – Al Haymon is the best at what he does. I am happy to be with the best manager in the world. He and my promoter, Yvon Michel, are the best team possible for my future fights.
AW – The first fight of both those unions takes place on Saturday in Montreal against Andrzej Fonfara. What are your thoughts on that fight and what does Fonfara bring to the table?
AS – Fonfara is the best contender in the world, all associations included. I believe he is more dangerous than (Tavoris) Cloud or (Tony) Bellew. He is young, strong and with a ton of confidence. I am very focused on this fight.
AW – If all goes well in that fight you’ll be primed to face Bernard Hopkins. What are your thoughts on that?
AS – Since becoming champion and even before that, I always wanted to fight Hopkins. He beat Jean Pascal and has two belts (IBF and WBA) so we can do a great unification… but I don’t want to say more at this point.
AW – Last time out you stopped Tony Bellew in six rounds. What would you say of that fight and how do you rate your performance?
AS – It was a good performance, not a great one. Bellew is intelligent and had a good strategy but my power prevailed.
AW – Your last fight will have been six-months ago by fight time. What have you done in that time?
AS – I had a bad injury to my shoulder that needed attention. In 2013, I did a string of four fights in seven months, so I needed a bit of rest but now I am 100 percent fine and ready for this new stage of my career.
AW – Much has been made of you signing with Showtime, not least by possible adversary Sergei Kovalev. The two of you have had words. What is your side of the story?
AS – Nothing special. One day, for sure, we will fight each other. I met him several times and it was very cordial. He was always complaining about the purses he was making. He knows that, fighting me, he can make a lot of money.
AW – You were a late starter in the pro game, only really coming into your own in the last few years, what happened to you as a fighter for you to make such a huge improvement?
AS – Two major things, meeting Emanuel Stewart was a huge turning point in my career and having a promoter, GYM, to give me the calendar and fights I needed to develop and then to become world champion.
AW – You stepped up from super middleweight to light heavyweight seamlessly, you’ve won all three fights inside the distance, and you appear to have carried your power up in weight with you.
AS – Power was always there in me at any weight but I believe it is my boxing IQ, the way I am using my power, that makes me special.
AW – How have you found the step up in weight?
AS – The step up was natural.
AW – What goals do you have in boxing?
AS – I want to unify all light heavyweight titles and be considered top 3 pound-for-pound.
AW – In closing do you have a message for Fonfara and the light heavyweight division?
AS – I know Fonfara will be ready. Me too! You want my belts, so come fight me like a warrior, and let’s put on a good show.