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Tevin Farmer wants to steal the show, predicts KO win

Tevin Farmer, left, predicted a fourth-round KO for his junior lightweight title defense against Francisco Fonseca. Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

When junior lightweight world titleholder Tevin Farmer made his first defense against James Tennyson, on Oct. 20 in Boston, he stole the show.

Farmer was on the undercard of Demetrius Andrade's vacant middleweight title victory over Walter Kautondokwa and turned in a stellar, crowd-pleasing performance in which he savaged Tennyson to the body and dropped him with punches to the ribs in the fourth and fifth rounds before the fight was waved off after the second knockdown.

As Farmer preps for his quick return to the ring for title defense No. 2, which will come against Francisco Fonseca on the Canelo Alvarez-Rocky Fielding undercard on Saturday (DAZN, 8 p.m. ET for main card, with the undercard stream beginning at 6 p.m. ET) at Madison Square Garden in New York, he is aiming for another impressive knockout.

"I'm looking to do it in four or less. I just want to prove myself right. I set goals for myself and I like to accomplish my goals." Tevin Famer

"I'm looking to do the same thing on the Canelo card. I'm looking to steal the show," Farmer said. "I know I'm a top fighter. Skill for skill, I'm top five pound for pound, one of the best fighters in the world. Let's take credentials out of it. Skill for skill, I am one of the best five pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I believe real boxing fans and writers would agree with me."

Farmer, a southpaw from Philadelphia, is known far more for his slick boxing ability and top-notch defense than he is for his punching power despite the lights-out showing against Tennyson. But Farmer said to expect another knockout Saturday.

"I'm looking to do it in four or less," he said. "I just want to prove myself right. I set goals for myself and I like to accomplish my goals."

Farmer (27-4-1, 6 KOs) is well aware that by predicting such an early knockout he is setting himself up for comparison to fellow 130-pound titlist Gervonta Davis, with whom he has traded barbs on social media, as each professes to want to fight the other despite typical boxing politics that complicate the matter.

Davis was overweight and stripped of a belt before facing Fonseca on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor pay-per-view in August 2017. He had an unfair advantage due to being heavy and handed Fonseca his only loss, by eighth-round knockout.

"My next opponent I want to stop in four or less and absolutely I want to stop him before Davis," Farmer said.

Lou DiBella, Farmer's co-promoter with Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn, is no fan of the KO prediction.

"I don't like him predicting KOs," he said. "I want him to go in there and be Tevin Farmer. If the KO happens, it happens. The flip side is most of what this kid says he'll do, he does, so I'm not dismissing him, either."

Farmer turned pro at age 19 with virtually no amateur experience and had to learn on the job. He started his career 7-4-1 as he was thrown in with tough opponents and nobody looking out for him. But after a stoppage loss to Jose Pedraza, an Olympian who won world titles at junior lightweight and lightweight, Farmer embarked on an 18-fight winning streak against all odds.

He eventually linked up with DiBella and earned a shot at a vacant world title on an HBO card in Las Vegas, every fighter's dream, last December.

Farmer appeared to soundly outbox Japan's Kenichi Ogawa but lost a controversial split decision.

"It was very disappointing and I was coming off a gunshot wound to the hand [four months earlier] and I wasn't 100 percent and I still went in there and [should have] won the fight," Farmer said. "For them to take it from me was crazy."

But Ogawa was eventually stripped of the title and the result was changed to a no contest because Ogawa tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. That put Farmer, 28, in position to face former featherweight titlist Billy Dib for the vacant belt in his Australian hometown of Sydney on Aug. 3. Farmer happily packed his bags for the road trip.

"I've always been the underdog so it was pretty much normal to me," he said. "I believed we could have had [the fight] here. Lou DiBella asked me if I want it here or there and I told him it don't really matter. I been on the B side. I've been up against everything, so at the end of the day that's how I feel about fighting. It don't matter, you go at as a fighter. You have to win the fight. You have to get in there and fight."

There was more money for the fight in Australia, so off Farmer went.

"I said I never been to Australia, let's go there. I may never go back to Australia. So I was happy to be able to take that trip," he said. "I was happy to be over there actually."

Farmer dropped Dib with a left hand in the ninth round, busted him up and won going away on the scorecards to take the belt.

The victory came at an ideal time in the boxing business, as promoter Top Rank, with its ESPN deal, and Hearn, with his DAZN deal, were engaged in something of an arms race, trying to sign the best available talent.

After the fight, Top Rank and Hearn both approached DiBella about making a co-promotional deal with Farmer.

"I went to Lou and told him get us the best deal possible. We want to fight as many times as we can and we want to make money, and Lou came back and said this was on the table and this was on the table, and we decided to go with Eddie," Farmer said. "He's keeping me busy. It's fun, man."

The fight with Fonseca (22-1-1, 16 KOs), 24, of Costa Rica -- who has won three fights in a row, all by knockout, since the loss to Davis -- will be Farmer's third in four months. That is virtually unheard-of activity in this era for a top fighter, but Farmer loves it. He is staying sharp and making career-high purses.

"It's perfect because I'm a guy that's in the gym anyway. If I wasn't fighting I'd be in the gym, so why not put it to use? I hardly get touched up so it don't take a toll on my body," Farmer said. "I don't get touched at all. We know how to balance our training so I don't overtrain. So I'm happy where I'm at. I'm ready to take over."

Said DiBella: "Tevin lives to fight and he's a gym rat so I think fighting with regularity is not only good for him in terms of being happy, but it will make him a better fighter. It's a pleasure to work with a kid who works as hard as he does on his boxing and his craft and as hard as he does promoting himself and connecting with the fans and the boxing world.

"He was gung-ho about [fighting again so quickly]. He had taken like three days off after the last fight and was going to be back in the gym no matter what we scheduled. He says he's feeling great. I really hope he's not looking past Fonseca because he's a decent fighter."

Farmer said there is no need to worry about that. He said he's as focused as ever and not worried about getting a big fight with Davis or anyone else, because he believes eventually all roads at junior lightweight will run through him.

"I'm gonna be the big fight for everybody. That's my goal -- for everybody to say, 'Tevin Farmer is the big fight,'" he said. "I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing. I'm going to enjoy my process. That's one thing I learned coming up. Now that I'm a champion, I tell all the young fighters to enjoy the process of becoming a champion. Once you get there it will be even better.

"I'm gonna make myself a household name to where people say, 'I want to fight Tevin. He's a big name.' I think that's where I'm headed."