MONTREAL -- With two knockout boxers in the ring, it's unlikely that both of Canada's Adonis Stevenson and American Don (Da Bomb) George will remain upright for very long.
Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) has flattened his last five opponents, two of them in the first round.
George (23-2-1, 20 KOs) has lost two of his last five by decision to opponents that have managed to take him deep into the fight. He knocked out the other three.
"No way this is going 12 rounds," George said Wednesday. "Someone's going to get knocked out."
That will determined Friday night when the two power punchers meet in a twice-postponed International Boxing Federation super-middleweight elimination bout at the Bell Centre.
The winner becomes the mandatory challenger to IBF champion Carl Froch, the Englishman who demolished former title holder Lucian Bute of Montreal in May. The loser is likely to lapse into obscurity.
"This is my entire career bundled up in one night," said Chicago-born George. "I've been a professional for over eight years now.
"I'm only 27, but I've never been at the big plateau. This is my opportunity. If I don't win this fight, I have to go back to the drawing board and fight for no money in little club shows. I want to win. I want to be world champion."
It is no less important for 35-year-old Stevenson, a late bloomer from Longueuil, Que., who is beginning to draw interest from top U.S. specialty channels HBO and Showtime. His run of spectacular knockouts has moved some to compare him to former heavyweight star Mike Tyson.
The bout was originally scheduled for Aug. 11 in Montreal, then was moved to Aug. 17 in Oklahoma, but was postponed again when Stevenson suffered a hand injury while sparring. The hand has now completely healed, he said.
Stevenson's technique looks to have improved in the year since he started working at Detroit's Kronk Gym under Emanuel Steward, although the hall of fame trainer is currently recovering from colon surgery. His nephew and assistant Javan (Sugar) Hill is working with the Canadian for this fight.
Stevenson dedicated the fight to the 68-year-old Steward, who is suffering from diverticulosis, a colon ailment. Earlier reports that he had cancer were denied by his family.
"It was good motivation when he was there but he's sick now," said Stevenson. "I dedicate this to him.
"I trained very well and I'm prepared for this fight. Now, after I win, I want to fight the best."
Promoter Yvon Michel noted that people laughed when Stevenson said he wanted to fight Bute a year ago. Now, it is the previously undefeated Bute who will be looking to re-establish his credibility when he faces Denis Grachev in a non-title bout Nov. 3 at the Bell Centre to tune up for a rematch with Froch.
It was Stevenson who laughed when asked if he rated Bute among the best.
"Bute?" he asked. "I said I need the best.
"Carl Froch or (WBC and WBA champion) Andre Ward. That's what I'm looking forward to. I will focus on Don George first and then after that I want the best because I'm the best in the division."
Michel said IBF rules mandate that the Stevenson-George winner fight Froch before Feb. 5, but a deadline in boxing is more of a suggestion than a rule. Negotiations happen, TV has its say in who fights who.
They may have their own ideas for Stevenson.
"People making decisions at Showtime and HBO know the value of Don George," Michel said. "He's by far the best opponent Adonis ever had.
"If Adonis comes out of this fight and we still don't know the limits of his potential it means great things are coming. He will have passed the test and he will be invited as a key player for major TV. If he struggles and there's not a big margin between him and George, they'll say 'OK he's a good fighter but not exceptional.' And if he loses, at 35, he'll have to go find a job."
Michel considers George a dangerous brawler and Stevenson "more of a sniper and puncher." Most opponents hope to survive the early rounds and try to outpoint Stevenson, but few make it that far.
"He's a power puncher, I'm a power puncher," said Stevenson. "Someone's going down for sure, and it's not me."
Stevenson is ranked second by the IBF and George is 11th.
The co-feature has David Lemieux (26-2) against Mexican Alvaro Gaona (15-1) in the Montreal middleweight's second bout since his rise through the rankings was stalled by a pair of defeats last year.
Sharp-looking light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (9-0) and light middleweight Kevin Bizier (17-0) are among others on the card.
Briton John O'Donnell (25-2), who came to Montreal to help welterweight Antonin Decarie prepare for his recent victory on HBO, will fight Thomas Mendez (16-2) of the Dominican Republic.
There is also an amateur charity bout between Gabriel Jauvin, a sommelier at trendy wine bar Le Pullman, against Denis Lessard, a maitre-D at Le Filet restaurant.