James Stevenson faces challenge vs. Vasquez Jr., but has seen worse
James Stevenson will face his most difficult challenge yet when he meets Sammy Vasquez Jr. on Friday in Pittsburgh.
Not only will he be fighting a hard-hitting southpaw who has knocked out his previous six opponents, but will do so in front of his opponents’ hometown fans.
Given that Stevenson (21-0, 14 KOs), 31, has faced nothing like the competition that Vasquez (15-0, 11 KOs) has, having fought only one boxer with a record above .500, the fight represents a major step up for a welterweight who has competed mostly in his native Baltimore.
It is out of the ring, however, that Stevenson’s resolve has been tested the most.
In 2011 during a routine jog to prepare for a fight, a stray dog viciously attacked Stevenson, requiring him to get more than 20 stitches.
Shortly thereafter, his father James “Woody” Stevenson Sr. passed away, as did his mother-in-law. Stevenson’s career stalled as he involved himself in consoling family members and providing additional financial assistance.
“I love boxing to death but that was a very difficult time in my life,” said Stevenson, of a period that lasted over a year between a unanimous decision over Jose Angel Roman in August 2011 and a first-round knockout of Dontre King in September 2012.
“I had to help keep my family together, and it was very hard on me, especially because of how close I was to my father. We had a great relationship and losing him was devastating.”
Stevenson will have his hands full with Vasquez.
Berlin Abreu was 7-0 with five knockouts before Vasquez stopped him in the fourth round in February. In Vasquez’s next bout, he scored a first-round knockout over fellow left-hander Juan Rodriguez Jr., who entered their fight at 11-0 with five knockouts.
In his last matchup, Vasquez scored knockdowns in the first, second and final rounds of a third-round stoppage against Jay Krupp, who had floored undefeated Sadam Ali in the first round of a unanimous decision loss a few months earlier.
So, in an event televised on Fox Sports 1 and promoted by Iron Mike Productions, Stevenson will be in search of a defining victory that will take his career to another level.
“He’s jut another guy to me. He breathes just like I do and puts on his boxing shoes one at a time. The guys I’ve seen him fight aren’t on my level,” said Stevenson, whose nickname is “Keep Em Sleepin.”
“So to be honest I think he’s taking a big step up, too. I’m not worried about the fight being near his hometown. Anywhere I go, I make it my hometown. Tomorrow night, I’m going to do what I do best which is put people to sleep.”
Note: Quotes provided by Knockout Publicity