By Hans Olson
Friday night is big for Quebec-based boxer Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, who takes on Noe Gonzalez for the WBC Silver super middleweight title at the Bell Centre in Montreal, in the feature bout of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights telecast.
“Definitely for Adonis it means a lot,” said Stevenson’s Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward when speaking with Boxing Insider Wednesday.
“Because you know, he kind of sort of say broke on the scene with that unbelievable devastating knockout over Jesus Gonzales.”
The first round bludgeoning of Gonzales became not only Stevenson’s biggest victory to date, but a YouTube sensation, and a clear cut leader for Knockout of the Year. It was the latest in a string of impressive outings from “Superman.”
After suffering his lone career loss two years—albeit a questionable stoppage loss—Adonis has been on a tear. Last year, victories over Derek Edwards, Dion Savage, and Aaron Pryor Jr. put him in position to challenge Jesus Gonzales for the IBF’s #2 rating.
As sensational as that victory was, Steward knows that Stevenson (17-1, 14 KOs) must stay active in a loaded 168 lb. division.
“Everyone wants to take a second look now with another qualified fighter,” continued Steward.
That qualified fighter is Noe Gonzalez, who is currently rated #2 by the WBC. Boasting a great KO% of 68.97, the Uruguayan born Argentinian would appear to be a major threat—but Steward sees those numbers a little differently.
“He’s not that big a puncher as his record shows. He basically wore down his opponents…a lot of them smaller guys. He won by stopping them and winning decisions later on. But I don’t think anyone saw him knocking out a quality guy with one single punch without having to have worn them down. It’s a big difference in the punching power.”
Steward feels that they have the perfect game-plan to avoid that very scenario.
“We worked on Adonis being in great condition because that’s the only advantage that Gonzalez would have. He can’t match Adonis with speed, not with power. The main thing is he would be expecting to wear Adonis down. The last few days Adonis was boxing 12 rounds and at a very hot, hot Kronk Gym. There was no break at all, and he wasn’t even breathing hard after 12 rounds!”
Steward, who has trained some of the greatest fighters of all time including Thomas Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko, felt an immediate connection with the Stevenson, a Haitian-born Longueuil native who now resides in Detroit.
“With Adonis, you know sometimes you run across a guy that you click with,” continued Steward. “The fact that he lives about a mile from my house–he’s stopping by–I have a really mean German Shepherd puppy that don’t like nobody … but him and Adonis gets along good!”
The family-like atmosphere is what Emanuel prefers.
“I’ve got a guy named Derrick Coleman who’s my assistant. He [also] does a lot of quality time with him. It’s a type of a situation where I’m more effective. Even with Wladimir we have a very close bond. We talk to each other nearly every day. So the connection goes beyond boxing. That’s why I don’t like to have too many fighters because you lose that personal connection when you got maybe five, six, seven, eight, ten fighters at one time.”
That isn’t to say Steward and his team aren’t busy enough as it is…
“Adonis is training here at the Kronk Gym with Andy Lee…and Ronald Hearns is fighting back at the Kronk where he started as a kid. He’s also fighting [Friday], so we had to split up the team. My nephew Sugar Hill and Andy Lee are going to Mississippi. They’re already there now, they’re working with Ronald and I needed to come up here with Derrick Coleman and Adonis.
“We’re spit-up with two fights in the same night, and all of us have been training together. And Adonis has been boxing with Ronald Hearns, because he’s fighting [Erislandy] Lara. This Friday is a very big night for all of us at Kronk.”
By Johnny Walker
Listening to world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko on a conference call this week from Germany, it became clear that the normally genial and laid-back Ukrainian was a little more tense than usual as Saturday’s fight with Jean Marc Mormeck of France approaches.
Klitschko and his trainer Emanuel Steward have been reading the boxing press, and bristling at the suggestion, made by many (including this writer), that the cerebral and methodical champ needs to step up his game and get rid of the seemingly over-matched Mormeck both quickly and in spectacular fashion in order to satisfy his numerous (on this side of the pond, anyway) critics.
Steward was first up, trying to tamp down expectations of a blowout in front of an estimated 50,000 European boxing fans on Saturday in Düsseldorf, Germany.
“It’s not the type of a fight that he can come out like everyone thinks and just blow the guy away,” said Steward.
“It’s so frustrating with these comments that we’re reading. And I understand the fans’ opinion, but I just think style-wise, it’s not going to be the type of a fight where you can just knock the guy out early, because his head is going to be bobbing and weaving. So when you fight a guy like that you have to fight a very patient fight.
“You have to jab and learn to control the guy’s head, because his head is upfront, which means you control his head, you control his whole weight, and which means you have to fight a patient, systematic fight to break the guy down, much like Lennox [Lewis] had to do with Mike Tyson.
“But according to all of the experts, if the fight goes over three rounds or four rounds, it’s considered a terrible performance. If Wladimir knocks him out in a minute, it’s what he was supposed to do, so we’re going into a definitely no-win situation,” Steward lamented.
The champion then spoke, and both his tone and the cutting nature of some of his comments made it clear that he is tired of the idea that there is something wrong with the way he fights, and offended by the notion that he needs to do something differently this time.
“I think you’re more frustrated that anyone else,” Klitschko snarked at one reporter who suggested that the Klitschko brothers might find the current heavyweight division’s competition less than satisfactory.
“We’re getting enough challenges, trust me.”
Wladimir also emphasized the fact that while size is important, it isn’t the determining factor in most title fights.
“It’s a tough job to fight a shorter guy,” said Wladimir.
“And trust me, it costs you more energy as a bigger guy. It’s on one side an advantage because of the size and weight, but it’s not always an advantage.
“It’s definitely – it’s a smaller target to hit, so you have to be really precise. It has to be like surgery in an operating room, you know? You have to be really precise with what you’re doing, and that’s exactly what it’s going to be like with Mormeck.”
In other words, the champion has no intention of changing his approach for Jean Marc Mormeck or anybody else.
As always for Wladimir, it’s going to be chess match.
If it ain’t broke, he reasons, don’t fix it.
“If our fights were kind of sloppy and we were getting punched in the face and we needed to have a shoehorn to put the hat on after the fights, probably that would be exciting for the fans,” Klitschko said sarcastically of he and his brother Vitali’s heavyweight dominance.
“I know what to expect from my opponents. I know the game, and it’s actually a chess game for me, believe it or not. So when you’re well prepared, there is nothing that can surprise you.
“That’s basically it.”
(Weigh-in photo by Michael Sterlingeaton)
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By Johnny Walker
Following two straight weekends of exciting heavyweight fights, world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and French challenger Jean Marc Mormeck will try to make it a triple play when they meet this coming Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Just after the HBO network had announced that it was giving up on the heavyweights, Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora (with an assist from David Haye), along with Alexander Povetkin and Marco “Captain” Huck, showed why contests featuring the big fellas can be exciting in a way that the lower weight divisions just can’t match.
Thankfully, new cable player EPIX picked up these fights and allowed interested American fans a chance to see some dramatic heavyweight action.
There is, however, widespread cynicism about the Wlad-Mormeck matchup (also on EPIX). The French challenger is short (under six feet tall), not exactly young at age 39, and has not had a distinguished run at heavyweight since moving up from the cruiserweight division in 2009.
There is a feeling out there in the boxing public that this is a throwaway title defense for the younger, stronger, larger Klitschko, though it could also be argued that Wladimir has earned an easy one after facing the best in the division for the last few years.
Resultantly, there is almost no pressure on Mormeck (36-4-0, 22 KOs) going into this fight. Everyone outside of Mormeck’s own immediate family expects him to lose, and perhaps even they are hedging their bets. If Mormeck somehow avoids ending his night lying on the canvas and staring up at the referee, he’ll have exceeded most people’s expectations.
For Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs), however, there is immense pressure this time not only to win, but to look very good while doing it. A chess match in the ring is not what is called for this time out, with even Klitschko trainer Emanuel Steward complaining about the lack of knockouts in heavyweight boxing as of late.
At today’s final press conference in Germany, Klitschko seemed to acknowledge the pressure that is on him to produce fireworks against Mormeck, and he at least tried to take some of the heat off and reduce the boxing public’s expectations of an easy win.
“I still have the hunger and I do not take this fight lightly,” Wladimir said.
“It is extremely difficult to box against a man who is a lot shorter. It does not make my job easier.
“His size makes it even more difficult for me to hit him. I will do anything to make sure to keep the belts that I have been unifying in the last years.”
All of that is fine and dandy, but none it changes the fact that anything less than a spectacular knockout win for Klitschko this Saturday night will see him answering numerous questions as to what went wrong. A unanimous decision is not going to be enough against Mormeck.
It’s time to for the cerebral Wladimir to put the chess set away, and go for broke.