For many boxing fans, Adonis 'Superman' Stevenson exploded out of nowhere to seize a light-heavyweight crown with a spectacular first-round KO of Chad Dawson in June 2013. The Haitian-born, Quebec-based fighter turned professional in 2006 at the late age of 29; his career truly began to take off in early 2012, when he joined forces with much-missed trainer and HBO analyst Emanuel Steward. That upward trajectory culminated 18 months later with his concussive win over Dawson.
As part of a series in which we get to known HBO's boxing stars better, we sat down with Adonis and asked him a few questions about himself.
You are renowned for your KO power. Why do you think you are able to knock out so many opponents?
God gave it to me, this beautiful power. God gave it to me, and Emanuel helped it, because he knows power punchers: he trained guys like Thomas Hearns, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis, so he knows how to work with guys with power. You can have power, but the trainer's very important to develop it. And now I have more footwork, more technique.
What did it mean for you to work with Emanuel Steward?
I'm very happy to have worked with Emanuel, because he believed in me and gave me time and advice. He said to me that I would be a world champion. He saw that, and he told Yvon [Michel], my promoter, that if I got a chance to fight Chad Dawson, we should make the fight happen, because he knew Chad Dawson, he trained Chad Dawson, and he knew me very well too.
Your reaction after you defeated Dawson was full of emotion. Can you describe what you were feeling?
I was really happy because it was a lot of work with my team. I wanted to prove what Emanuel had said. Before the fight, I had a picture of Emanuel in my room. And I looked at the picture and I said, "I'm going to win the title for you Emanuel. I got it." I told Javon Hill [Steward's nephew and successor as Stevenson's trainer] that, "We're getting to bring the title back, to Detroit, to Kronk Gym, and I know Emanuel is in the room and watching."
Can you remember your first fight?
My first fight as an amateur, I fought in a place just outside New York. I fought a guy with like eight fights, but my trainer didn't tell me that. I asked him how many fights my opponent had had, and my trainer said, "He's starting out just like you. He hasn't had any fights."
So the fight started, and I saw the way he moved and I thought, "Shit. This isn't his first fight." I saw him come toward me and I threw my left hand. Bang! I caught him on the chin. I had my eyes closed, and I had my head down, and I threw my left hook. I opened my eyes and I saw him lying there and he wasn't moving. I was like, "Hey, what happened?" I went to check up on him and his trainer pushed me, saying "Stay away! Stay away!" I felt bad because I saw him on the floor and he couldn't move. Then he got up and everything was OK, and after the fight my trainer came to me and said, "You know he had eight fights?" I said, "What? Why didn't you tell me?" And he said, "If I had, you wouldn't have taken the fight."
If you could fight anybody - from the present or the past - who would it be?
For now, I would like to unify the title at light-heavyweight and fight Bernard Hopkins. Because this guy -- I watched him when I was young, and he's still here. I would like to fight him, because he's a legend. He lost, he came back, he won. To be around at this age -- and he's still champion. That's why I want that fight, because he's a legend and I'm a power puncher. So power puncher versus legend: let's fight in Canada, what a war that would be. It's a good matchup and a good fight.
Finish this sentence: "I will retire from boxing when ..."
I started late, like 28, 29 years old. Most boxers start young and finish young. I don't know, we'll see. Now I'm a world champion, I want to unify the titles. God's going to decide when I'm going to stop or not - and my family.
What would you like your children to be? Would you like them to be around boxing?
I've got two daughters, so I don't want them to be in boxing. I have one boy, Adonis Stevenson Jr. I don't want him to be in boxing, because it's very, very hard. You have to have a certain dedication. It's not an easy sport. It's not a team sport. You're by yourself. If you have a bad day in basketball, football, the team can support you. But in boxing, if you have a bad day, it's just you. So I would like him to play another sport.