Stevenson connects throughout his thrilling encounter with Badou Jack in 2018. (Picture by Steve Russell/Toronto Star through Getty Photos)
Adonis Stevenson ripped up the script in the summertime of 2013 when, because the underdog, he knocked out Chad Dawson with one punch within the first spherical to annex the Ring and WBC gentle heavyweight championship. It was chosen in our readers ballot as the Knockout of the Yr. Stevenson went on to make 9 profitable defenses over a five-and-a-half-year interval within the 2010s.
Stevenson was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on September 22, 1977.
“I didn’t meet my father; he died when my mom was pregnant with me,” Stevenson advised The Ring. “Once I was a child, I all the time stated, ‘Why has my father died?’ It was very tough. You develop up with out your father. My mother was my mom and father. She did every little thing for me. She labored so much; she’s a fighter.”
Looking for a greater life, Stevenson’s mom moved the household to Canada when Adonis was 7 years outdated. It was fairly a change for the younger Haitian.
“The climate was a shock,” he stated. “Individuals had been telling me the winter was chilly, however me, in my head, I used to be pondering, ‘That’s nothing. That’s simple work for me.’ I needed to get a jacket, hat. I needed to put boots on my toes. It was chilly. I used to be like, ‘How do human beings stay right here?’”
However stay he did — and he was by no means removed from hassle.
“I didn’t end faculty,” stated Stevenson. “I used to be in hassle on the streets. I used to be a road man. I used to be in a gang however didn’t keep lengthy; there was one boss however I don’t like folks to regulate me.”
Stevenson labored in a manufacturing facility however hustled for cash on the streets, changing into extra concerned in felony actions.
“There was one man who manipulated me; every little thing he stated, I’d do. He managed me,” stated Stevenson. “They stated I used to be a pimp. He got here to me and obtained the ladies to provide me the cash, and I gave him the cash. He used me. After I look again, I used to be naive.”
His nefarious actions finally caught up with him, and Stevenson went to Bordeaux Jail in Montreal for assault, issuing threats and dealing with prostitutes. He served 18 months of a four-year sentence.
“I noticed lots of people who had been within the jail, they’d exit and are available again,” he recalled. “I requested one of many officers: ‘I noticed him a few days in the past; he was in jail, he got here out and he’s come again. How come?’ The safety guard laughed and stated, ‘Don’t fear, you’ll come again. They all the time come again.’ I checked out him and stated, ‘Once I exit, I’m by no means going to come back again once more — by no means.’ He laughed.”
With steely dedication, Stevenson took up boxing when he obtained out of jail in 2001. He received the Quebec championship in 2004 after which the Canadian nationwide title in 2005 and 2006. He represented Canada on the Commonwealth Video games in Melbourne and received silver in 2006. His efficiency prompted famend promoter Yvon Michel to signal him. Stevenson turned skilled on the comparatively late age of 29 in September 2006.
The tremendous middleweight knockout artist progressed rapidly, profitable the Canadian title in his tenth outing. Nevertheless, after going 13-0 with 10 KOs — seven of them within the opening spherical — he made his American debut combating for Lou DiBella and was stopped within the second spherical by harmful journeyman Darnell Boone.
“I underestimated him and [didn’t take] him severe,” admitted Stevenson. “He shocked me. It was arduous. I obtained written off. I needed to persuade Yvon. He stated OK and gave me a second probability.”
Stevenson returned and knocked out once-beaten Derek Edwards (KO 3) and the stylistically difficult Aaron Pryor Jr. (TKO 9).
In 2012, he grew to become one of many nice Emanuel Steward’s pupils. The 2 rapidly bonded and Steward helped Stevenson transfer to the subsequent degree. The the power-punching southpaw dispatched Steward protege Jesus Gonzales (KO 1) and world-rated Noe Gonzalez (TKO 2), then stopped Don “Da Bomb” George (TKO 12) in an IBF eliminator.
When Steward handed away within the fall of 2012, Stevenson labored together with his late coach’s nephew, SugarHill.
Though he was Carl Froch’s obligatory challenger, Stevenson lined up a combat with Ring/WBC champion Chad Dawson. However first, he determined he wanted to get the Boone loss out of his system for good.
“[Boone] was speaking so much, speaking shit, saying, ‘He’s going to combat for a world title however doesn’t have time to combat me,’” stated Stevenson, who brutally gained revenge by knocking Boone out within the sixth spherical. “I didn’t have to, however I did. I stated to Yvon, ‘Please, I’ve to combat him. He’s speaking a lot shit about me. Any combat I’ve, he’ll be like, ‘Adonis is combating him? Ha! I beat Adonis.”
“Yvon stated, ‘Combating this man doesn’t imply something, and also you’re going to danger it? You’ve gotten every little thing to lose.’ It was my honor. I advised him I’d combat without cost. He obtained me as soon as, however he’s not getting me a second time.”
That led to Stevenson dealing with Dawson in Montreal in June 2013.
“I used to be purported to be simple for him,” stated Stevenson, laughing. “I practiced that sort of punch hundreds of occasions. He’s southpaw and I’m southpaw; while you throw the left hand, will probably be hearth. I attempted one time to get the gap, and the second time I obtained it.
“It was a dream come true for me. I used to be not purported to be a world champion. Individuals had been saying, ‘You’re an outdated man. You’re going nowhere.’ I shocked the world. My life modified in 76 seconds.”
“Superman” rounded out the 12 months with profitable title defenses over former titleholder Tavoris Cloud (TKO 7) and future cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew (TKO 6) to shut out 2013. On the energy of these accomplishments, Stevenson was named The Ring’s 2013 Fighter of The Yr.
The Bellew combat was on HBO as a part of a doubleheader with WBO beltholder Sergey Kovalev. It was hoped they’d meet within the new 12 months. Nevertheless, Stevenson made a enterprise determination to signal with the influential Al Haymon and moved to Showtime.
Promoter Yvon Michel discusses Stevenson-Kovalev saga
Stevenson held off the late cost of Andrzej Fonfara (UD 12) in 2014, however critics started to complain about him dealing with the likes of Dmitry Sukhotskiy (KO 5) and Tommy Karpency (TKO 3).
“Individuals all the time have one thing to say in terms of my opposition,” he stated. “Boxing, as you already know, shouldn’t be a simple sport on the skilled degree, and everybody has their totally different skills. I are inclined to not take note of what folks must say.”
Stevenson went a good distance towards silencing these detractors when he engaged with two-division titleholder Badou Jack in a thrill-a-minute conflict in Might 2018.
“I feel it was an unimaginable combat,” stated Stevenson, who needed to accept a 12-round draw. “When he stayed on his toes [after I hurt him with a left hook to the body in the fifth round], I used to be like, ‘It is going to be a protracted night time.’
“Individuals aren’t used to seeing me going 12 rounds – I often go for the KO. This time, folks actually obtained to see my endurance and resilience and the truth that I simply don’t surrender.”
Stevenson then met his obligatory challenger, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, in Quebec Metropolis in December 2018. It was a contest that ended with Stevenson happening underneath a barrage of punches within the eleventh spherical.
“I used to be dominating the combat,” he stated. “I misplaced. However it’s boxing.
“I am going to the lavatory and had a bathe and I get out; I used to be feeling like my head was not good. I used to be not snug. I felt a ache in my head. I went to the hospital, after which I had the operation.”
Stevenson had suffered a extreme mind damage and spent three weeks in an induced coma. When he lastly wakened, he discovered himself initially of a protracted and tough highway.
“I needed to learn to stroll, easy methods to discuss, easy methods to eat. I needed to learn to learn and write. I used to be like a child,” stated Stevenson, who estimates he’s now about 80 % of what he was previous to the damage.
In 2019, Stevenson was honored on the WBC conference and named the WBC Champion of Hope.
Learn “Soul of a Champion” (The Ring Journal, January 2021)
Stevenson, now 45, has 5 kids and lives in Laval, Canada.
He graciously took time to talk to The Ring about the perfect he fought in 10 key classes.
Badou Jack: “He will get the jab out, the timing; he’s affected person. It was a swift jab.”
Jack: “He had an excellent protection, too. He can block the punch.”
Chad Dawson: “I might see his jab was very fast.”
Oleksandr Gvozdyk: “He moved across the ring very properly.”
Andrzej Fonfara: “Once I fought the primary combat, he let me punch him, he saved blocking and was ready for an excellent second. He was very sensible, ready for his second. When his second got here, he caught me and I noticed every little thing he was doing was to put on me down. My power was going and he knew it. He noticed the chance, he caught me and [I went down, then] I obtained up.”
Fonfara: “He’s large and really sturdy bodily. He walked round at 200 kilos.”
Dawson: “I might really feel his energy, and he additionally disrespected me. I stated in my thoughts, ‘I’ve to complete him fast,’ earlier than he obtained his rhythm.”
Sakio Bika: “I don’t suppose there was a boxer who knocked him out. I hit him clear, he went on the ground and he obtained up. He had an excellent protection, however he had an excellent chin. Whenever you punched him within the head you felt the punch in your fingers. He’s obtained a chin!”
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“I feel Tony Bellew had good abilities. He had lengthy arms, good jab. Aaron Pryor Jr., he’s tall — this man is 10 toes (laughs) and he’s obtained abilities.”
Jack: “He was a two-weight world champion. He introduced the perfect out in me; we had a fantastic combat.”
Particular due to Nathalie Bruneau for making this story attainable. The Ring appreciates her assist.
Questions and/or feedback could be despatched to Anson at [email protected].