Friday, February 03, 2023  |



Adonis Stevenson: ‘I’m the only guy that can beat Sergey Kovalev’

Photo by Amanda Kwok/Showtime

Photo by Amanda Kwok/Showtime


Adonis Stevenson insists he’s the only man who can vanquish Sergey Kovalev, even though his own reputation has taken a beaten as of late for appearing to have ducked premier competition.

Since the RING/WBC light heavyweight champion signed with adviser Al Haymon in February and bolted for Showtime from network rival HBO, Kovalev has lamented “a lost opportunity to knock out” Stevenson, whose shift was designed to pursue a shot at Bernard Hopkins.

Former RING and WBC champion Jean Pascal has also questioned the character of Stevenson, calling him “Aducknis Chickenson,” and saying he has been trying to land a fight ” for six months.”

But Stevenson (24-1, 20 knockouts) claims to have taken all of the criticism in stride entering Friday’s defense against Russian Dmitry Sukhotsky (22-2, 16 KOs) in Quebec City, claiming he is still is “the king of the light heavyweights.”

“Nothing is easy,” said Stevenson, “but I know that I’m the only guy that can beat Sergey Kovalev. I will fight him in 2015.”

In a strange twist, Hopkins left Showtime for last month’s HBO-televised unification bout with Kovalev, whose unanimous decision added Hopkins’ IBF and WBA belts to the WBO title Kovalev already owned.

THE RING’s No. 1-rated 175-pounder, Kovalev received an exception from the IBF, allowing a March 14 clash with Pascal, who is the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s WBC title.

In accordance with the IBF’s ruling, Kovalev can fight Pascal rather than mandatory challenger Nadjib Mohammedi, who, like Kovalev, is promoted by Main Events.

“Look, Pascal and Hopkins got to fight Kovalev; so what? I know Kovalev still has to prove that he’s the best in the division and the only way that he can do that is by fighting me. When I go to fight Kovalev, like Hopkins and Pascal, he’s gonna want more money,” said Stevenson, 37, who, like Pascal, is a Canadian resident of Haitian descent.

“I told Pascal that he was only a contender and he only deserved 30 percent and that’s why the fight didn’t happen. So he went with Kovalev because maybe he’s going to get more out of him. But I mean, look at Kovalev. He’s a world champion and he’s got three titles but I bet that he’s only making about $500,000 a fight. Come on, man.”

Nicknamed “Superman,” Stevenson didn’t help his cause during his last bout in May, when he scored knockdowns in the first and fifth rounds but had to rise from the canvas himself in the ninth round of a unanimous decision over Andrzej Fonfara.

A southpaw, Stevenson took a run of 13-1 with 14 knockouts in his previous 14 fights into the bout with Fonfara and had stopped 10 consecutive opponents since being knocked out by Darnell Boone in April 2010.

“You know what? I made over $1 million for my last fight but I am not going to tell you exactly how much I made. That’s because I’ve got Al Haymon, who is a good manager, and he works everything out for me. It’s because I’ve got the best manager in Al Haymon,” said Stevenson, whose promoter, Yvon Michel, had reserved an April 4 date at the Bell Centre in Montreal for the anticipated clash with Pascal.

“Like I’ve said, Pascal is fighting Kovalev but he’s not going to make more money fighting Kovalev than he is fighting me. The money is with me. Kovalev can fight Hopkins; he can fight Pascal or he can fight anybody else that he wants in the light heavyweight division. But he can only make the big money by fighting me, Adonis Stevenson. I’m Superman. I am the king of the light heavyweights.”

Stevenson had a tremendous run in 2013, going 4-0, all knockouts, starting with his first 175-pound bout against Boone. Stevenson dethroned Chad Dawson for THE RING and WBC championships with a 76-second knockout in June 2013.

Next, Stevenson scored a seventh-round technical knockout over former beltholder Tavoris Cloud in September 2013, with the latter being stopped for the first time in his career. In November 2013, Stevenson defeated Tony Bellew by sixth-round technical knockout.

“Just take a look at all of my fights and you know what I’m about. No one else knocked out Chad Dawson in 76 seconds. I did that. I’m the first guy to stop Tavoris Cloud. I beat two champions back-to-back. So I’m not scared of any of those guys. The problem is not about being scared. The problem is that in the negotiations, they want more money, so that’s why the fights didn’t happen. Do they want to fight? Good,” said Stevenson.

“But they want more money than me. Come on, man. They always want more and more and more. But my manager is Al Haymon and he does a good job for me. So if you want the fight, no problem. Just call his number. Call Al Haymon. Just call and he can make the fight happen. So tell Kovalev’s promoter to call Al Haymon if he really wants the fight.”

Next up is Sukhotsky, 33, a winner four straight bouts. Sukhotsky last suffered defeat by unanimous decision in July 2012 to Cornelius White, whom Kovalev dropped three times en route to a third-round stoppage victory in June 2013.

But given that Sukhotsky’s credentials include a second-round stoppage Mohammedi from October 2011, Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva strongly believes that to be a fight Stevenson could lose.

“To be perfectly honest. Somebody’s gonna beat Stevenson,” said Duva. “In my view, he is a fringe contender who could lose to absolutely anyone.”

Stevenson insists, however, that he feels no extra pressure against Sukhotsky.

“Listen, I’ve got a big fight coming up and I know that it’s a dangerous fight because I know that this guy is coming to fight. So I’m focused for Sukhotsky. I know that he’s going to try to come and pull the upset but that’s not going to happen. I’m training very hard and I’m ready for this fight and I know that I’m going to win,” said Stevenson.

“Then I’ll fight anybody, anywhere, any time. I know that everyone wants the fight to happen between me and Kovalev. I know that Kovalev is going to beat Pascal and I know that I’m going to beat Sukhotsky. So then, after that, we can fight. And if Kovalev does fight me, then he’s going to make huge money.”