Whatever your take on the June 3 rematch between Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara, hosting cable network Showtime and promoter Yvon Michel managed to help arouse interest. The winner of the evening's main event will not only know what the future has in store, but will be granted an up close-and-personal view.
The light heavyweight title fight - which returns to the Bell Centre in Montréal, Canada - will be supported by an intriguing bout between former champion Jean Pascal and unbeaten top contender Eleider Alvarez, event handlers have formally announced. The winners of both bouts will be mandated to square off later this year, as Alvarez already serves as the mandatory challenger to the WBC title currently in Stevenson's possession.
"This is one of the best shows in Quebec in a long time," Yvon Michel, president of GYM Promotions said in a statement released through the press office of Showtime Sports. "It's the kind of event that will inject some adrenaline into boxing in Quebec. We have two fights that could be main events anywhere in the world and on any network. Adonis will defend his title for the eighth time. To be a world champion for four years is exceptional. Fonfara has a style that can give Adonis some problems."
Stevenson (28-1, 23KOs) will look to make the eighth defense of the light heavyweight crown he acquired in a 1st round knockout of Chad Dawson in June '13. The event will creep up on the four-year anniversary of that career-best victory, although his title reign has since been met with scrutiny and ridicule.
Among his seven previous defenses was a 12-round win over Fonfara in their May '14 meet. That bout came together after Stevenson and his team took a blow torch to plans for a light heavyweight unification bout with Sergey Kovalev, walking away from American cable giant HBO to cross the street in preference of a run with the network's chief competitor at Showtime while signing with high-powered adviser Al Haymon.
Stevenson dropped Fonfara early in the bout, but was put on the canvas himself late in settling for a decision victory. The occasion snapped a 10-fight knockout streak following the lone loss of his career - a 2nd round stoppage versus Darnell Boone in April '10, since avenged during the aforementioned streak - and marked just one of two times during his title reign in which he has been extended the full distance.
"I'm very excited for this rematch with Fonfara, but it is going to be a short night for him because they don't pay me for overtime," said Stevenson, who has been inactive since a 4th round knockout win over second-generation boxer Thomas Williams Jr. last July. "I'm very happy to be back in the ring for my first fight of 2017.
"I can't wait to fight in front of my hometown fans at the Bell Centre. The first time I fought Fonfara was at the Bell Centre in 2014 and now we're back doing it for a second time. I will put on a great, exciting show for the fans in my hometown, and for the fans on Showtime."
Naturally, his opponent has every intention of upsetting the apple cart.
"I feel good that I'm back here after three years," said Fonfara, who enters on the heels of a stoppage win over Dawson this past March. "I'm ready for revenge. I'm a different fighter physically and mentally. I've shown in a couple of fights that I'm a better fighter. It's a great opportunity to get the rematch and be a world champion."
The win over Dawson presented a much-needed career boost for Fonfara following his shocking 1st round knockout loss to Joe Smith Jr. last June in his adopted Chicago hometown. The debacle aired live in primetime on NBC, putting a major dent in the ride of momentum he enjoyed in the wake of his loss to Stevenson. He managed three high-profile victories in between defeats, none bigger than his shockingly one-sided nine-round drubbing of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in April '15.
Still, he views his entire career arc over the past three years - along with now working with head trainer Virgil Hunter at his training complex in Oakland - as the type of experience needed to prevail in the rematch.
"The last fight against Chad Dawson gave me experience because it was very technical. But really all the fights since then - Julio Chavez, Jr., Nathan Cleverly and even Joe Smith - have helped me prepare for Stevenson again," Fonfara believes. "I changed my team, got a new coach and a trainer, which makes me physically and mentally where I need to be for this fight.
"I don't have a problem fighting in Montreal (again). I love Montreal. It's a beautiful city with beautiful people. It will be a great night of boxing and I'm sure that I will be victorious on the night of June 3."
Alvarez (22-0, 11KOs) comes in on the heels of the biggest victory of his career, stopping former super middleweight champ Lucian Bute in five rounds this past February. He has served as Stevenson's mandatory challenger since a points win over Isaac Chilemba in Nov. '15 but has opted for the slow road to his first career title fight.
Added to that journey is another fight against a top former champ in Canada. Pascal (31-4-1, 18KOs) remains eager to take on anyone and everyone in the light heavyweight division. He has remained among the most popular boxers in his adopted home country, his status soaring to new heights following his World light heavyweight championship win over Dawson way back in Aug. '10. His stay at the top was short-lived, fighting to a draw with Bernard Hopkins in Dec. '10, before dropping a 12-round decision to the living legend in conceding his crown in their May '11 rematch.
He is 6-2-0-1NC in nine subsequent bouts, with both losses coming at the vicious hands of Sergey Kovalev, in March '15 and Jan. '16 respectively. The rematch loss had many calling for his retirement, but he has since bounced back with a 3rd round knockout of Ricardo Marcelo Ramallo in his ring return last December.
"In the co-main event we have a former world champion in Pascal who still believes he can be world champion," notes Michel. "He will have a tough assignment with Alvarez, a fighter who just proved he belongs with the best in the world with his win over Lucian Bute. If he beats Pascal he will have beaten two of the best stars that Canada has ever produced in back-to-back fights. He will prove to be a threat to anyone in the future.''