Finally, it seems as though the waiting for super middleweight contenders Donovan George and Adonis Stevenson to fight is over.
They have twice had their title eliminator postponed. First, they were scheduled to fight Aug. 11 on a Showtime card headlined by Tavoris Cloud's light heavyweight title defense against Jean Pascal. The card, however, was postponed when Pascal suffered a hand injury while training.
Because Cloud-Pascal was not going to be rescheduled until the fall -- and ultimately it was scrapped altogether -- Stevenson-George was rescheduled as the main event of the Aug. 17 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
But Stevenson suffered a left hand injury a week before the fight, so George (23-2-1, 20 KOs) instead faced late substitute Dionisio Miranda of Colombia and knocked him out in the sixth round to preserve the eliminator with Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs).
Now, at long last, unless something goofy happens -- and this is boxing, so something goofy could indeed happen -- they will throw down on Friday night (WealthTV, 9 ET) with the right to become the mandatory challenger for 168-pound titlist Carl Froch at stake.
George, a 27-year-old from Chicago with a crowd-pleasing style, is ready to get it on.
"I've been focusing on Stevenson for a long time now," George said. "The delay was actually a blessing as it gave me an abundance of time to prepare for this fight. The original date was a little short notice so this worked out very well. A number of fighters turned down this fight. I accepted immediately. I want to fight for a title and this is the clearest path. Camp has been great; I'm on weight and ready to roll. Can't wait to get in the ring in Montreal against Stevenson."
Not too many have had that wish. Several fighters in the IBF's rankings ahead of George did indeed turn down fighting Stevenson in the eliminator, including Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Kelly Pavlik and Sakio Bika.
There's a good reason. Quebec's Stevenson, who turned 35 on Sept. 22, is a brutal puncher who has scored some highlight-reel knockouts. The reward apparently did not outweigh the risk to them.
For George, it's worth the gamble.
"The last 2½ years [during which he suffered his two defeats] have had a lot of ups and downs, but I've just fought right through it," George said. "I'll fight until I win the title and my attitude is just to focus on the goal -- a world title. I'm a fighter, that's what I do, it's what I want to do.
"I spent part of this training camp in Miami with [trainer and former titleholder] John David Jackson. He helped me a great deal with my footwork in preparation for Stevenson, he also added a few new wrinkles to my game."
George also said his experience training with southpaw contender Andy Lee in Detroit's Kronk Gym during May and June -- when Lee was getting ready to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a middleweight world title bout -- was invaluable.
"Andy's very technical so it was a great learning experience that will help in this fight," George said.
George is not a very technical fighter. He's more of a brawler but probably will need to move at least a little bit against Stevenson, who's also not the kind of fighter likely to outbox his opponent. But anyone who stands in front of him has been warned.
"People know what to expect from me," Stevenson, a southpaw, said. "They know I'm a power puncher, and that I'm fast, I have a good defense and I have skill. I fight aggressively. Fans like that. Fans want action. They want knockouts. That's what I give them."
Because they both like to fight more than box, George -- like most people with an opinion -- is expecting an exciting fight.
"Stylistically, I like this fight," George said. "He's not going to run. He's a puncher, too, so I'm just going to go out there and fight my fight and I know I can win. I'll be very well prepared and willing to go to war in what is the biggest fight of my career. I know it's going to be a grueling fight and I know it's going to come down to conditioning and basically who can take the better punch. Adonis is a big puncher, but so am I. So I think it's going to be a very explosive fight.
"There's no secret to how I'll fight. I'm going to throw big punches and I'm going to try to knock him out. I'll try to add a little boxing to my slugging -- I always try to do that -- but when the bell rings, I forget about it. There's no way it can't be a great fight."