MONTREAL – Since becoming the world champion in June 2011, many have tried to slow Adonis Stevenson down but failed time and again in their attempts to do so. Accustomed to being the main attraction on boxing cards hosted at the Bell Centre over the last few years, the 36-year-old feels privileged to have the opportunity to entertain spectators in the building that his favorite hockey team calls home. The canadiens.com crew met up the WBC Light Heavyweight champ to learn more about his love for all things CH.
How long have you been a Habs fan?
ADONIS STEVENSON: For a long time. I remember the Stanley Cup wins in 1986 and 1993. Those were back in the good old days of Patrick Roy and Guy Carbonneau. I’m old school. I remember watching Chris Nilan and Bob Gainey play. Sometimes, my mother would tell me to go to sleep because it was late, but I’d secretly keep listening to the games on the radio. I didn’t want to miss a thing.
Is there one particular moment in Canadiens history that really stands out for you?
AS: When the Canadiens won their last two Stanley Cups. I remember seeing them receive the Cup and watching the parade in downtown Montreal on television. Those were some great moments to see.
How many times a year do you get out to the Bell Centre to see a game?
AS: It’s tough because I often hold my training camps outside of the country. I came to the home opener last season against the Maple Leafs with my little girl. We didn’t stay until the end because it started a little bit too late for her!
We often hear talk about the energy the Bell Centre crowd generates for Canadiens players. How pumped up are you when one of your fights is held here?
AS: The Bell Centre crowd definitely motivates me a lot every time I fight there in front of my fans. The building was really well thought out so the ambiance could be at its best. Many of my opponents that have come to Montreal said before the fight that they would come here to take my belt. It hasn’t happened. (laughs) I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that it continues for a long time.
As a boxer yourself, do you believe that fighting still has a place in hockey?
AS: When I’m in my other home in Los Angeles and I’m talking hockey with people over there, fighting always comes up. It’s always been a part of hockey. Fighting brings a measure of excitement to the game, and it helps to protect star players when someone goes after them. There’s a strategic aspect to fighting, too. I don’t see why fights would be banned. They allow teams to change the momentum of a game. The league should ban dirty stick plays instead.
How important is it for you to rewrite boxing history and make your mark among the great champions of the sport?
AS: It’s really important for me to leave my mark in boxing history. That will allow both Quebec and Haiti to have their respective places in history, too. It also would allow me to set a good example for all of the young people that come from a similar environment that I grew up in, and show them that if you persevere and work hard all of the time, no matter the situation, it will pay off in the end.
All of the Canadiens’ opponents engage in a lot of trash-talk before going up against them as a method of intimidation. Knowing full well that the same thing happens in boxing, is it easy for you to stay calm before each fight?
AS: The more trash-talk thrown my way, the better I am! (laughs) The more my opponents provoke me, the more they get me up for the fight. I’ll be more motivated, and the fight will be over a lot faster. Things like that don’t intimidate me at all.
We all know just how powerful your punches are in the ring. But, if we put a pair of skates on your feet, would we see the same type of power?
AS: (laughs) I know how to skate, but it’s far from my strength.
Interview conducted by Hugo Fontaine. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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