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Thursday, September 26, 2013
Stevenson aims to 'mop up' on Cloud

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

People give names to their kids, to their pets, a boat, maybe even to their car. Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson? Well, he has a name for his destructive left hand.

"That's the 'Superman punch,'" said Stevenson, whose nickname is "Superman."

The southpaw is a devastating puncher, especially with his left hand, and if you saw his last fight, you'd understand.

On June 8, in Stevenson's adopted hometown of Montreal, he needed all of 76 seconds to blast out Chad Dawson in spectacular fashion to win the light heavyweight world championship. It was a stunning one-punch knockout, just the latest in a career that has been filled with them, and it came on the Superman punch -- a clean left hand to the chin that obliterated Dawson.

It was quick, but memorable work for Stevenson, who had moved up from super middleweight for the title shot. Now he is set to make his first title defense when he faces former titleholder Tavoris Cloud on Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) at the Bell Centre in Montreal in the first half of a split-site doubleheader, and he is planning to land yet another Superman punch.

"I'm going for the knockout. Knockouts sell, you know," Stevenson said.

Before his untimely passing last October, Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward served as Stevenson's trainer. Steward, known for his offensive-minded teaching, loved knockouts and always encouraged his fighters to go for them, albeit intelligently. Now, Stevenson is trained by Javan "Sugar" Hill, Steward's nephew.

"Emanuel has told me all the way -- knockouts sell," Stevenson said. "I want to win by knockout and, you know, I think people want to see that, the knockout. You are good [fighting into] the 12th round, but I think the fans, the TV [executives], everybody wants to see a knockout. That is what I want to bring. All my fights, I want to win by knockout."


In the second televised bout, which takes place at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs) of Mexico returns to action one year after his first defeat, a lopsided decision to champion Sergio Martinez, and a subsequent nine-month suspension for a failed drug test. He will face Brian Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) of Austin, Texas, in a scheduled 10-round bout.

Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) turned 36 on Sunday, but he is not old in fighting years. He didn't turn pro until he was 29 and has taken very little punishment in his career. That's what happens when 16 of his knockout victories have come inside six rounds.

"My goal is to win by KO," Stevenson said, "but I'm ready to do 12 rounds, if necessary, to show that I'm a complete fighter."

Adonis Stevenson
Adonis Stevenson's one-punch knockout of Chad Dawson in June set off a celebration for the ages.

Said promoter Yvon Michel, "Stevenson will prove -- he wants to prove -- that this was not a lucky punch [against Dawson]. He wants to show also that he is the real deal and the best of the talented, crowded light heavyweight division and a superstar in the making." 

Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Tallahassee, Fla., defended his version of the 175-pound title four times before losing it by clear unanimous decision to 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins on March 9 in Brooklyn, as Hopkins, for the second time, set the record as the oldest fighter to win a world title.

Although Cloud is coming off his only defeat, he has never been knocked down and, obviously, never knocked out. That is a stat Stevenson is aiming to change.

"I'm a pure power puncher," Stevenson said. "[Cloud] is a power puncher? No. Soon Tavoris is going to make a mistake and I'm going to catch him. Like Chad Dawson makes a mistake. Chad is a good technician. He makes a mistake, I catch him. It is going to be the same thing for Tavoris Cloud. Soon he is going to make a mistake, I'm going to catch him.

"I'm in shape to do 12 rounds. If there is no knockout, he is going to be punished. I'm going to punish him. I'm going to be ready and I got Plan A, B, C, D. I'm a chef master."

Although Hill, like his uncle, preaches knockouts, he said Stevenson is also a very capable boxer, even if most folks focus on his punching power.

"He has power in both hands, upstairs and to the body, and he can also box, which most people don't give him credit for," Hill said. "They just give him credit for being a power puncher and that's it. I believe when the time comes, when he has to box, the people and the fans will see that Adonis can box very well. This is what is going to catapult him into being that superstar boxer. But first, he has Tavoris Cloud in front of him.

"These are the kind of fights that Adonis needs and he wants. He wants to fight the best and Tavoris Cloud has been at the top of the light heavyweight chain for quite some time. He had only one defeat, which was to Bernard Hopkins, who is also a great fighter. Tavoris Cloud is not afraid to be in there with Adonis, who is, I believe, a great fighter myself. He has exceptional boxing IQ."

Asked recently about Stevenson's power, Cloud dismissed it.

"To win at this level of talent takes skill and power is secondary," he said. "Anyone can be hurt, if you give up. I guarantee that I will leave Montreal with all the belts." 

When the time came to talk about the fight more in depth, Cloud, promoter Don King and trainer Al Bonanni (whom Cloud has reunited with after dumping him in favor of Abel Sanchez before the Hopkins loss) blew off a teleconference with boxing reporters this week.

While some viewed ignoring the call as their being disrespectful to Stevenson (not to mention the media), the champion seemed unmoved.

"I don't know what is disrespect or not disrespect," said Stevenson, who was born in Haiti. "I don't care what he thinks or what his team thinks, but me, I've got a job to do on [Saturday], so I'm going to do my job and knock him out.

"He is not in the confidence club. He is good but, you know, I know next when he comes to Montreal so I'm going to see him anyways. I don't know what is the problem with him and the team."

Michel said it was a case of miscommunication, although the time of the call was set well ahead of time. It is also not the first time Cloud and his team have missed scheduled promotional appearances, including a news conference in Montreal, supposedly because of a passport problem.

As long as Cloud shows up in the ring on Saturday night, that is all Stevenson cares about.

"You know, my game plan is really simple," Stevenson said. "Soon Tavoris Cloud is going to make a mistake and I'm going to mop him up."