WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara sounded off at the final press conference on Tuesday at Montreal Casino for their 175-pound rematch this Saturday live on SHOWTIME from Bell Centre.
WBC Light Heavyweight No. 1 contender Eleider Alvarez and former 175-pound champ Jean Pascal also faced off for their co-featured bout that opens the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Both Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) and Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) scored knockdowns in their all-action meeting in 2014, the only time Stevenson has been down in his eight world title fights since winning the WBC belt in 2013. While the local Montreal favorite was pushed the distance in his first bout with Fonfara, he has scored knockouts in five of his seven title defenses and stated on Tuesday that he expects a knockout in the rematch.
Since the close loss to Stevenson in 2014, Fonfara has picked up wins against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Nathan Cleverly and Chad Dawson, and enters the rematch with a new trainer, the renowned Virgil Hunter.
Here’s what the main event participants had to say:
“I’m ready because I know Fonfara is dangerous. We’re not underestimating him. I’ve prepared for everything, everything he brings in the ring I’ll be ready for it.
“I’m training for the knockout. Emanuel Steward always told me ‘knockouts sell.’ When I get in the ring I’m going for a knockout. It’s not an option for me to go 12 rounds.
“I train for 12 rounds, and if it goes 12 rounds he’s going to get punishment the whole time, but I definitely am going for the knockout.
“I see some things I can exploit in the ring.
“I won the first fight, and I know him very well. I know what he can do. I know he changed trainers. Virgil Hunter brings a lot of experience, I know he trains Andre Ward, and I know he’s very intelligent.
“I know Andrzej Fonfara from 12 rounds in the ring. He can’t change his style right now. He may show some improved defense, but after a couple of rounds it will be the old Fonfara.
“This fight will be different. I expect a knockout. I hurt my hand in our first fight, but now I’m fully healthy and I expect to knock him out.
“I know Fonfara is training hard to take my belt. I know he’s a tough fighter, and I know it’s not going to be easy for me.
“My goal is to unify the titles with the winner of (Sergey) Kovalev and (Andre) Ward. I want the unification, but if not I’ll make my mandatory. If Ward wins I want to fight him, if Kovalev wins I want to fight him. I’m ready.”
“I’m a much smarter fighter now. Mentally, I’m much strong and smarter.
“I bettered myself. Virgil (Hunter) has taught me a lot of new stuff. Some things worked in my last fight with Chad Dawson, some things didn’t. But that was our first fight together. Now I’m ready to show everything in this fight.
“I’ve had a lot of success against southpaws. I like fighting them. Chad Dawson was a southpaw, so the last two fights, the last four months, we prepared only for southpaws.
“I’m ready for the best Stevenson.
“My camp went well. Sparring was great. It’s my second full camp with Virgil Hunter and we’ve improved a lot since the first fight.
“I can’t make the same mistakes I did in our first fight. I must fight much smarter.
“Stevenson only has a good left hand. He’s the champ and he’s a good fighter, but his boxing isn’t amazing. He’s not easy, but he only has basic boxing skills. We must cut his left hand and be ready to throw my right. We need to control him.
“I must start good in the first round and let him know that I’m here to win the fight. And I’ll be the new champion.
“I’m always a fighter that goes forward and pushes guys back, but I am now ready to fight backwards if I need to. I’ll show the best Andrzej Fonfara this time.
“I’m going to win the fight. A world title is the only thing I’ve never had. I’ve imagined raising my hand after the fight and becoming the new WBC champion.”
“I’m ready to take the title. My time has come.
“I’m ready to be the new world champion and I’ll do that Saturday night. He wants the KO, and I want the KO, too.
“I respect him because he’s the champ. I came here to show that, this time, I’m the better fighter.”