You know it’s for real when celebrated American ring announcer Michael Buffer – silver of coif, golden of pipes (“let’s get ready to rrrrrumble!”) – is on hand for the weigh-in.
When a pair of world titles are on the line, you want to place the event in the best possible hands.
The first weekend of June in Montreal is known first and foremost as Grand Prix weekend, but this year it’s going to feature a spot of prize fighting as well.
Local product Adonis Stevenson will clamber into the ring Saturday night against reigning WBC light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, a Connecticut-born boxer who has made a recent habit of fighting in Canada.
Title bouts are always heavily hyped, but in this case the dislike between the fighters doesn’t appear to be manufactured. They scuffled briefly after making the 175-pound limit, and both boxers’ camps duly waded in, to the evident delight of a group of fans who took in the scene at a downtown hotel.
“I could see in his eyes he’s nervous,” Stevenson told reporters afterward. (Dawson was ushered from the room by his team, and it was left to promoter Gary Shaw to accuse the challenger of lacking respect.)
Stevenson came to pro boxing late, owing in part to a jail term in his late teens for pimping and assault, and is known primarily as a knockout artist – he has 17 of them in 20 career wins, against one loss.
All week he has accused Dawson of being scared. On Friday he vowed to knock him cold “in the seventh or eighth round, I want him to suffer a little first.”
But the 30-year-old Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs) is a much better opponent than the Haitian-born resident of Longueuil, Que., has faced in the past, and the 35-year-old Stevenson has moved up a weight class to take him on. Dawson remains the odds-makers’ favourite.
Were Stevenson to win, he would be the first Canadian title-holder since 2011, when Montreal’s Jean Pascal lost the light-heavyweight belt to the ageless Bernard Hopkins. (Dawson, who fought on the undercard that night, later beat Hopkins to claim it.)
Dawson, a formidable technician, carries a sizable reach advantage and is far more experienced, although his last outing, at 168 pounds against super-middleweight champion Andre Ward, ended in a loss.
The night’s other marquee tilt features a lightweight title matchup between undefeated Colombian Darley Perez (29-0, 19 KOs) and heavily favoured Cuban exile Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs), a former WBA, IBF and Olympic featherweight champion represented by rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and whose name has surfaced in connection with Biogenesis, a Miami clinic that provided performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players.
The two will fight for the vacant WBA 135-pound interim crown.
It’s just the second time in Quebec history a fight card will feature two world title bouts, and both will be carried on HBO, the influential U.S. cable network.
The undercard will feature Puerto Rican prospect Jose Pedraza against Mexico’s Sergio Villanueva, Quebec-born middleweight David Lemieux will fight Polish boxer Robert Swierzbinski, and Montreal-based Russian boxer Artur Beterbiev will make his pro debut against American journeyman Christian Cruz.