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.
Alvarez (22-0, 11 KOs) is undefeated and the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s WBC belt, but he’ll face the toughest test of his career in Pascal (31-4-1, 18 KOs), a former WBC 175-pound champion who has faced some of the world’s best light heavyweights over the past decade.
Here’s what the fighters 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’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.”
“He has a lot of experience, but experience can be negative sometimes. He’s experienced, but he has negative experiences and losses, too. I don’t think it will be a factor Saturday night.
“My style will be an advantage. I’m taller, I have a longer reach, and a better jab. My footwork is better, too. So I think my style is my advantage.
“Winning is the only option for me.
“Right now my focus is on Alvarez. After the referee raises my hand and we’ll see what’s next.”