Once a mere afterthought to the fans in this province, Stevenson has come a long way in a short period of time.
“Look,” pointed out Michel, “his number has increased every fight since he won the title. A year ago, he had just won the world title eliminator against Donovan George [on October 12th, 2012] and we had a couple thousand people in attendance and even at the time when Adonis was saying he was going to beat Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and these guys, everybody was kind of smiling when they were listening to that. But now, it’s completely different. He is a genuine star now. He is a proven champion. Now, everyone’s excited about him.”
As he won the 175-pound title by stopping Chad Dawson in one round back in June at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Michel recalls that they had, “about 4,000” in attendance. Stevenson’s first title defense, a seven-round stoppage over Tavoris Cloud in late September, had around 9,000 fans in the building.
With his hard-charging, fan-friendly style, can “Superman” be as popular as Bute was? Not too long ago, Bute drew huge throngs in Montreal, fighting carefully hand-picked foes. Michel stated, “I believe so because people here, what they love is champions. They love winners and they love knockout artists and Adonis is the best knockout puncher we’ve ever seen here.”
Stevenson is 22-1 with 19 stoppages to his credit. Since his lone blemish at the hands of spoiler Darnell Boone in 2010, he has notched nine consecutive KOs (including avenging the Boone loss in six last March) and he was the first to stop the durable Cloud. Now the question is, if he gets past the rugged Bellew, is Stevenson steered toward the winner of the Bute-Pascal showdown (which takes place on January 18th) or Sergey Kovalev (who faces Ismayl Sillakh on this show)?
“Bute and Pascal, we don’t know because they have a rematch clause, so that might take awhile to settle their case to one another,” explained Michel. “Really, what avenue we’d want to do is to fight Bernard Hopkins but we’ll see how possible it is because we’re fighting on HBO and Adonis is very proud of that too. But we’ll see after.”
Hopkins, like the rest of Golden Boy Promotions’ stable is firmly entrenched at rival Showtime. But make no doubt about it; the match-up fight fans want to see next year is Stevenson versus Kovalev (should both come out victorious on Saturday night).
Michel continued, “Everything will depend on the kind of investment that HBO is willing to do. If they are offering Adonis the same kind of license fee Andre Ward got for his last fight (which was just over $3 million for his bout against Edwin Rodriguez), he’ll fight anybody.”
Speaking of Ward, shortly after Stevenson defeated Dawson in the summer, Michel made it clear they would be willing to do a home-and-home series against Ward with one fight at 168 and the other at 175. Asked if that offer still stands, Michel answered, “I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Adonis about that for awhile. I don’t know the situation for 168. He was at 173 for the last time but y’ know, the one thing we have noticed, Adonis has mentioned Ward several times but he’s probably the only name that Ward never mentions. Adonis would fight Andre Ward anytime.
But the question is, would Stevenson drop to super middleweight like Dawson did? Unlike Dawson, Stevenson actually has the leverage of selling some tickets and not getting television-packaged into a disadvantageous position.
“I’m pretty sure Adonis would say yes if you ask him. But look, looking at what happened in the past when fighters were trying to go down in weight, we’re not too sure. Look at Chad Dawson; he said it was going to be easy and he was completely drained out [when he faced Ward in September of 2012]. Same thing, Edwin Rodriguez, he looked completely drained out for his fight. So after awhile, the body adjusts to a weight division that you’re in. So we’re not too sure if it would be a wise decision to bring Adonis back to ‘68.”
Regardless, as long as he keeps up his winning ways, the 36-year-old Stevenson will always have Montreal, Quebec to fall back on. This just might be the best boxing market in North America. “We have a huge, loyal fan-base. We have corporate sponsors. We have the resources to develop champions. Taking everything into consideration, I could say that Montreal and the Quebec province is definitely one of the best places in the world for a boxing event,” stated Michel.
But that doesn’t mean they are averse to having Stevenson fight elsewhere.
“’It’s our goal with Adonis to travel when the opportunity arises because I believe Adonis has everything it takes to be a worldwide star and I understand that to do that, he will have to take a chance and leave and leave the home comforts and fight in the United States. So we are talking about it; we are going to take the opportunity. It’s not necessarily going to be a business move because there would be more money here than elsewhere in the United States but he wants to do that. We want to prove that he can win and he can win in fashion anywhere.
“So it is our goal at one point shortly to bring him to the States.”
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly, in which we review the return of Manny Pacquiao and preview the HBO doubleheader:
And “TNR” is now available on iTunes (finally) as part of the “Leave It in the Ring” radio network:
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