- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Regardless of the television network that he is fighting on, light heavyweight champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson has one thing on his mind.
"I'm going for the knockout. Knockouts sell. I want to knock him out. That's what I'm going to do. I don't know his game plan. I'm going to knock him out," Stevenson said. "When you used to watch Mike Tyson fight, you knew someone was going to get knocked out. That's what is going to happen on Showtime. Somebody's going to get knocked out."
The target of the Montreal puncher is prohibitive underdog Andrzej Fonfara, against whom Stevenson will make his third title defense on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT, with a preliminary bout on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7 ET/PT) before a hometown crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The fight was initially designed as an HBO showcase for Stevenson on his way to a fall showdown with titleholder Sergey Kovalev, one of the most anticipated fights in boxing. But just days before Kovalev hammered Cedric Agnew in a seventh-round knockout victory on March 29 in his version of the warm-up fight, Stevenson, in a move engineered by Al Haymon, the adviser he signed with in February, bolted from HBO to sign with Showtime with an eye toward a fall unification fight against Bernard Hopkins rather than the more dangerous Kovalev.
Main Events, Kovalev's promoter, claims it had an agreement in place with Yvon Michel, Stevenson's promoter, for Stevenson-Kovalev on HBO in the fall. It is suing Stevenson, Michel, Haymon, Hopkins promoter Golden Boy and Showtime for breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference, among other claims, over the deal gone bad. The first hearing on the matter is scheduled in June.
Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs), a 36-year-old southpaw with freakish power, however, said he is not thinking one iota about the lawsuit against him and instead is concentrating on Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs), 26, a crowd-pleasing Chicago-based fighter from Poland.
"I'll let Al be concerned with that. I'm not concerned with that," Stevenson said of the litigation. "I think my managers and my promoter will take care of that. I'm concerned and focused on my fight. I'm focused on Fonfara. I'm training very hard for this fight, and that's my focus."
Michel has been defiant all along, saying there was no deal in place and that the Main Events lawsuit is without merit.
"Well, they are making a lot of noise, and if they want us to go to court then it's no problem," Michel said. "Then we'll be able to show that they misled everybody and that they lied publicly and that we will be able to expose them. At the same time here, it does not affect at all the preparation of this show and doesn't affect the tickets sales or the TV.
"To the contrary, I think this publicity has brought Adonis more worldwide attention and that his name was more in the media than before all that. I think it's going to bring more publicity and more viewers to watch this fight on Showtime."
There are two other fights on the Showtime portion of the card: Montreal middleweight slugger David Lemieux (31-2, 29 KOs) squares off with former title challenger Fernando Guerrero (26-2, 19 KOs) of Salisbury, Maryland, in the 10-round co-feature and Houston junior middleweight Jermell Charlo (23-0, 11 KOs) takes on Japan's Charlie Ota (24-1-1, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout.
Fonfara has not lost since a second-round knockout to Derrick Findley in 2008, a span of 16 fights (including a no contest for testing positive for steroids in 2009). Stevenson aims to end that run and then look toward Hopkins.
"I'm very focused for this fight. I'm not overlooking him," Stevenson said of Fonfara. "I know he's going to be ready, and I'm training for just him. I take it one fight at a time, and I will take care of business. I'm ready for this fight.
"I'm not here to lose. I'm a champion, and I'm here to win. By knockout. That's it, and I'm not concerned about anything else."
Fonfara's two most notable victories are against former world titleholders Glen Johnson, a 10-round decision in 2012, and Gabriel Campillo, a ninth-round knockout in 2013. The fact that few give him a chance against Stevenson doesn't bother him in the least.
"This is not my first time as an underdog. I've proved people wrong before, and I'll do it again," Fonfara said. "Everyone will see what I bring to the ring. I can handle his power. That doesn't worry me. Everything is at stake.
"I have the chance to make history, so I have plenty of motivation for this fight. He has power, but I can knock him out, too. A knockout would be the best offense for me. With our styles, it will be a good, exciting fight. You'll see on Saturday why I'm the better fighter. This is the right time for me."
A fight with Stevenson is something Fonfara has been asking for, according to his promoter, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing.
"I asked him of all the champions and all the fighters and all the opportunities that you may have, who do you want to fight? Anybody you want. And for any world title you want," Margules said. "And he said, 'I want to fight Adonis Stevenson.' So he is very, very excited, and I know he's thrilled to be on Showtime because it will be his first experience on premium television."
Then Fonfara offered a reminder that in Stevenson's lone defeat, he was knocked out in the second round by journeyman Darnell Boone, a loss Stevenson avenged by sixth-round knockout last year.
"I've got a good punch with both hands. He's gotten knocked out before," Fonfara said. "It proves he goes down, too. He's not 'Superman' like he thinks he is. He went down, and he lost the fight."
Still, most view a Stevenson win Saturday as a formality to set up the fight with Hopkins -- unless Main Events wins the lawsuit. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs), at age 49, unified two major 175-pound titles by dropping Beibut Shumenov in the 11th round and winning a clear decision on April 19, then reiterating that he wanted to fight Stevenson next.
Stevenson said he wanted to face Hopkins rather than Kovalev later this year because Hopkins has a much bigger name, but he also knows there won't be a fight with "The Alien" unless he beats Fonfara.
"I don't care about Hopkins now. Fonfara is in front of me, and that's it," he said. "After the fight we can talk about Hopkins."
Stevenson also denied that he was dodging Kovalev, as many have suggested.
"Those people don't understand that boxing is a business," Stevenson said. "That's our mentality. That we negotiate with the network and we make sure that everyone gets paid. That's why I took [the Showtime deal] because I'm working with the best managers in the world and they make sure everything is right with the network. It's not about ducking, it's about business.
"I don't have a problem fighting Kovalev. I have a feeling that Yvon Michel will one day make that happen."