TRAVERSE CITY — The formula worked to perfection last time.
So, naturally, Adonis Stevenson isn’t changing any of the training routine that won him a light heavyweight championship three months ago.
That means Stevenson is back in Traverse City at Trigger Boxing Gym, where he spent part of last spring getting ready for his June fight with Chad Dawson, which ended in a first-round knockout that earned Stevenson the WBC title belt.
Stevenson, 22-1 with 19 knockouts, is set to fight former champ Tavoris Cloud on Sept. 28 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the same place where he won his belt with the 76-second knockout of Dawson. Stevenson will be in Traverse City getting ready for the fight, which he started training for a month ago, until Sept. 20.
“We got a championship from working out here, so if it’s not broke don’t fix it,” said Stevenson’s trainer Javan “Sugarhill” Steward, the nephew of famed Detroit-based Kronk Gym trainer Emanuel Steward.
While Stevenson has been hard at work to defend his title, his final preparations for the bout will be in Traverse City, as he uses the location because he says it is easier to focus here than in a bigger city. Steward first came to Traverse City as a youth when his uncle was training Thomas Hearns for his title fight against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981. The young Steward became friendly with Bill Bustance, who co-owns Trigger Boxing with his wife Robbin, and vividly remembered the encounter. It opened up a future opportunity when Steward learned of Bustance’s gym during an amateur tournament in Traverse City.
“You can focus and fight,” said Stevenson, a French Canadian, who was born in Haiti. “So I’m here now. I’m very focused on my fight and I don’t have to go driving around in traffic.
“It feels good and fresh (to be back in Traverse City). Traverse City is very fresh — the air. I love it. It’s calm and it’s a nice city, a beautiful city. It’s a place that’s calm and quiet.”
To keep his crown, Stevenson will have to defeat Cloud, who sports a 24-1 record, with his only loss coming at the hands of Bernard Hopkins.
“Tavoris Cloud is a former light heavyweight champion of the world,” said Steward. “He’s had the belt for some years also. He’s fought a lot of tough competitors. He’s one of the top guys in that division. He’s a very competitive fighter and I know for sure he wants to regain the championship. Beating Adonis Stevenson would put him back on top.
Stevenson is giving Cloud a chance to regain the title, but the reigning champion comes into the fight with the utmost confidence.
“My chance to win is 120 percent,” he said. “I train hard for that and I will be ready. It’s going very well, very good. I’m really focused. My strategy is, as soon as he makes a mistake, I will catch him.”
With the light heavyweight title has come more fame and celebrity than he’s had, but it hasn’t affected Stevenson, who warmly greeted the assembled group at the Trigger Boxing Gym when he first arrived on Monday for a workout session that included sparring against three different opponents, work on a punching bag and speed bag as well as a stretching session.
“I’m not changed, you know. I’m Adonis,” he said, smiling. “I’m motivated. It’s not hard because now I’m the champion so I will stay champion. It’s good to be a champion. That’s the motivation for me.”