“One punch can change everything,” said Adonis Stevenson.
He should know.
The 36-year-old Haitian-born Canadian became the linear light heavyweight champion of the world last June by virtue of one of the most spectacular one-punch knockouts in boxing history.
Stevenson was happy to go over the punch in detail. Bleacher Report was happy to listen.
“He’s a southpaw, so he’s got a little different technique. I collapsed my left hand, and he kept his right hand down. I saw it a couple times. I jabbed and then just connected [with the right]. It was a beautiful punch. It’s a punch I work hard on a lot in the gym during sparring.”
Stevenson said he noticed a flaw in Dawson’s technique right when the bell rang.
“He had his hands down now, no head movement. He just kept coming straight to me.”
Stevenson said Dawson, a boxer-puncher, was putting more pressure on him earlier in the fight than he expected. It played right into his power puncher’s hands.
“I saw him putting pressure. I like a guy like that. I saw him coming right to me. That’s why I got the opportunity. He gave me a chance to see a mistake. I told him before the fight, the first mistake, I’d catch him.
“I caught him.”
Stevenson said he is thrilled to be light heavyweight champion of the world. He is happy to defend his crown against former alphabet titlist Tavoris Cloud this Saturday night on HBO.
“It’s very exciting. I’m very happy. I came to 175 from 168. I make the division more exciting. Everything is changing now. I’ve come to put excitement into the division.”
And who can argue? In a sport driven by highlight-reel knockouts, Adonis Stevenson delivers. The hard puncher hasn’t gone the distance since way back in 2007, and of his 22 professional fights, only two have required judges to tally their scorecards.
Stevenson has knocked out 18 of his opponents. His lone loss, a TKO to Darnell Boone in 2010, was avenged earlier this year in devastating fashion.
Stevenson told Bleacher Report he demanded the bout with Boone ahead of his championship opportunity with Dawson because he knew he had something to prove.
“The ref stopped the fight in the first one. I was never knocked out. I got up, and the ref stopped the fight.
"I was not in shape for the fight. I had some bad people around me. I hadn’t fought in almost a year. I had lots of problems around me, so that’s why I told my promoter I needed the rematch. He got me the rematch, and I stopped him. That’s my best knockout. I don’t think he’s come back from that. I broke his nose, his rib, his jaw, his cheek. I destroyed him. So he can’t come back now.”
Stevenson said he learned much from the experience.
“That’s why I like boxing. You never know what will happen. When I fought the first time, I thought he was a bum, and he wasn’t good. I didn’t take him seriously. So I learned you have to be prepared every fight. That’s why I am a champion now. I learned from my loss. Now, I train hard for every fight. I’m very prepared and very focused for every fight.”
If you’ve followed Stevenson’s career, you know he doesn’t like to talk about his past. According to Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole, Stevenson was arrested, charged and convicted of being a pimp back in 1998. He served four years in prison for it.
But Stevenson told Bleacher Report that boxing helped turn his life around.
“It’s helped me be more disciplined. When you box, you have to rely on yourself. Everything that happens to you in the ring is you. You have to be focused. You have to have dedication.”
Because of his early troubles, Stevenson said he didn’t begin boxing until he was 27 years old. He had a short but successful amateur career in Canada and turned pro just two years later.
So does he wish he had started boxing sooner?
“No, when I turned pro, I knew I would be champion of the world. That’s what happened. Now, I got my chance to fight the champion, so I took it and I won the title.”
Stevenson said his advanced age won’t be a factor the way it is for other guys who start boxing as adolescents. In fact, he believes it gives him a distinct advantage.
“The earlier you start, the more fights you have. In boxing, you never know what happens. One punch can change everything. That’s boxing. You never know. I don’t have a lot of amateur fights. I’m able to fight more and more... I don’t go the distance very often. That’s why I will be able to fight on.”
Stevenson’s first bout as a 36-year-old (he was 35 when he clobbered Dawson) will be Saturday against Cloud. Stevenson expects a fan-friendly tussle.
“He’ll be coming. He’s not Chad Dawson, who is more technical. He’s a pressure fighter. That’s why I think it will be a very good fight. I like to fight a guy like that.”
And his prediction?
“Fireworks! There will be real fireworks in this one.”
And he’s probably correct. After all, one punch can change everything, especially if you punch like Adonis Stevenson.
Kelsey McCarson is a boxing writer for Bleacher Report and TheSweetScience.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.