Adonis Stevenson, who won the light heavyweight world title in spectacular fashion in June, will make his first defense against former titleholder Tavoris Cloud on Sept. 28, promoter Yvon Michel told ESPN.com on Monday.
Stevenson, a super middleweight contender who moved up in weight for a shot at the title on June 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, is one of boxing's biggest punchers and showed it by knocking out Chad Dawson with a booming left hand in just 76 seconds for a knockout of the year candidate.
"This fight is totally different than the fight with Dawson," Michel said. "Cloud is aggressive, likes to exchange, likes to fight. He was outsmarted when he fought Bernard Hopkins [in a March loss]."
Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs), 35, a native of Haiti who lives in Quebec and is a growing attraction there, will be back at the Bell Centre to face Cloud in the main event of an HBO card. A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday at the arena to make the formal announcement.
The fight has been in the works for more than a month, but Michel said he got all of the signed contracts back from Cloud promoter Don King over the weekend.
"We were waiting for paperwork. It took a little while to get the signed paperwork but we had an agreement, and Cloud and Stevenson are already in training," Michel said. "Tavoris Cloud was the fighter that HBO wanted us to make a deal with and I am happy we got that done with Don King. A lot of people said it would be difficult to do with Don King, but that was not the case. Gary Shaw (Dawson's promoter who had an option on Stevenson) is also involved with us in this fight and he also helped to get this done."
Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Tallahassee, Fla., won a vacant 175-pound title in 2009 by outpointing Clinton Woods and went on to make four successful defenses. But in March, he was outclassed by Hopkins, who, at age 48, outpointed him to become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title (breaking his own record of 46).
For that fight, Cloud had fired trainer Al Bonanni and strength coach Alonzo Johnson and hired Abel Sanchez, who brought him to his camp in Big Bear Lake, Calif. After the loss, Cloud fired Sanchez and rehired Bonanni and Johnson, and is now training with them again in Ocala, Fla.
"He's back with Al Bonanni and I know he'll come out swinging and be aggressive, so for Adonis this fight will be to prove that what he did to Dawson was no fluke and that he is the real deal in the light heavyweight division," Michel said. "We have to show that not only he can punch but that he can box too because he will have to do both in the fight. We're very enthusiastic about the fight."
Bonanni said he is happy to be back with Cloud and believes he can lead him to victory.
"I wish I had a chance for him to fight Hopkins again," Bonanni said. "I really felt he wasn't right for the Hopkins fight. If Alonzo and I were there I think he would have been much more aggressive. Bu we know this here fight with Stevenson is not an easy fight. This is a southpaw, he's taller, he has reach advantage, he is very strong and even though he is 35, he hasn't had a lot of wear and tear.
"But Tavoris is in great physical shape. Alonzo been here for three weeks in Ocala working with him. [Monday] was my first day in the gym and Alonzo already has him in great shape. We can beat Stevenson. I'll do my job and we'll work on fighting a southpaw and we'll start sparring next week. This guy [Stevenson] has tremendous power but I've seen a lot of things he does that are very rudimentary. He doesn't have a lot of experience. I think he could get caught and that we have a good chance to pull the upset. They're taking Cloud because they think he's done, shot, finito and that's good. We're going there to surprise them and to win. We're not just going there as an opponent or for a big payday."
Bonanni said he holds no grudge toward Cloud for firing him before the Hopkins fight.
"I'm happy to be back," he said. "He asked me to come back. I don't have any animosity toward him, although I lost a big payday."
In order to make the fight, Stevenson was granted exception to face Cloud by the sanctioning body overseeing the bout rather than face mandatory challenger Tony Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KOs) of England. However, the winner of the fight is contractually obligated to face Bellew next. Bellew became the mandatory challenger in May by outpointing Isaac Chilemba in a rematch of their previous draw.