Around and around they go
The announcement over the weekend of a rematch between IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal, scheduled for Jan. 30, was met with a bit of a collective groan by the boxing public. Yeah, the first fight was entertaining but, for the most part, was one-sided in the favor of the “Krusher,” who stopped Pascal in eight last March.
Jean Bedard of Interbox – which represents Pascal – explained they tried to create a scenario in which an Adonis Stevenson-Pascal fight would take place with the winner to face Kovalev later in 2016. “That was our main goal. Even Pascal phoned Stevenson directly to try to make it happen because it was the fight people wanted to see. I think it was a great plan because the winner could fight Kovalev. That was our plan but, at the end, I don’t know how it works. I don’t know who’s making the decisions. Yvon Michel [of GYM, which promotes Stevenson] was on board with that one but I don’t know if it was Adonis Stevenson or his manager [Al Haymon].
“But we said we had to have an answer by this weekend because, if we’re not going in that direction, we’ll go directly to Kovalev, which we’ll do because, if we want to do a fight in January, we have to organize it. So that was our plan and it’s funny because I heard that the WBC sent a letter today [Monday] to make another purse bid. So that’s funny; I don’t know how the WBC works but it’s very special.”
(Bedard is referring to a press release put forth by the WBC on Monday that read, in part:
“Today, the WBC reached out to Stevenson and he said that he has the exact same feeling and wishes – that he only wants to fight Kovalev immediately.
“The WBC will fully support and invite the promoters and managers of both fighters to sit down and make this fight happen.”)
When asked why Stevenson passed on this particular plan of action that could have possibility led to the long-awaited showdown against Kovalev, his promoter Yvon Michel explained, “Well, it’s not that simple, [Adonis] wants to fight Kovalev right away. He doesn’t believe he has to qualify to do that and there was a deadline set and they had that date in January. It was like, ‘If you don’t give an answer right away, [Pascal] will fight Kovalev.’ They already had an agreement to fight with each other in January. So there was pressure and so we were not in a position to give a straight answer before that deadline and that’s why they decided to go fight themselves again.”
The deadline imposed was for last Friday (Oct. 16) and Bedard, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, Kovalev and his manager Egis Klimas were in New York this past weekend, where they all attended the Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux fight at Madison Square Garden.
Duva told UCNLive.com, “So now we have to move on. HBO is pressing us, ‘Are you going to take this date? We have Jan. 30 for you. Are you going to do this? We have to lock it in.’ So they told Yvon, ‘If you tell us on Saturday that this can’t go through, then we’re moving on and Kovalev is going to fight Pascal.’”
Going back to that WBC statement, Duva states, “Right after Yvon finds out that Sergey is locked into fighting in January, what happens? Now they’re out there saying that they want to fight [Kovalev] again. This is getting ridiculous. I’ve been sending notes to [WBC President] Mauricio [Sulaiman] and I told him, ‘Listen, we will fight [Stevenson] in June. I will make a deal with Yvon right now.’ The condition being Sergey wins in January, we’ll fight [Stevenson] in the spring and we can do it on pay-per-view with HBO. My only problem: We both agreed that 50/50’s fair and I told him, if necessary, we’ll go to Canada and that the only issue here is that who distributes it.
“Sergey has a multi-fight deal with HBO. He cannot fight anywhere else. Stevenson hasn’t fought on Showtime since last year and his last two fights were on CBS and Spike. So it doesn’t appear he’s committed anywhere. So this should be a no-brainer, if you really want to do it. But every time, it’s the same story; as soon as they find out it’s not possible to do the fight, they go out demanding that they want to do it.
Of this dynamic, Michel responded, “We understand they have a contract with HBO, Adonis has fought for Showtime and [Premier Boxing Champions] platforms and, for the moment, we don’t feel it’s fair for the network that has supported Adonis since the last four, five [fights] to not be in the race, at all, for the possibility of doing the biggest fight in that division. So we haven’t got over that yet. This is where everybody wants the fight – the difference [being] with the networks – we haven’t been able to set up.”
Duva believes, at this point, this is squarely on Stevenson and not Michel.
“When Mike Tyson wanted to fight Evander Holyfield [in 1991] and Don King hated Main Events more than anything in the world and, believe me, the animosity between King and Main Events, at that point, blew away anything that’s going on now. I just made a deal with Yvon Michel for one of my fighters, [Isaac] Chilemba to fight Eleider Alvarez; I made a deal in three days. I can work with Yvon Michel. So when the world wanted Tyson-Holyfield and we were pushing for it, there became a day when Mike Tyson told King: Make the fight and so he did.
“It didn’t happen at that time because of Mike going to jail but the point is, that point in time, Don King did not want to make a fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield because he knew how it was going to end up and yet Mike Tyson made him do it and there are a hundred examples of that where fighters have just told their promoters, ‘Make the fight.’”
Duva continued, “If Adonis Stevenson wanted this fight…It was just offered to him; he turned it down. You can’t turn the fight down and say that you want it. And you can’t turn the fight down and demand a purse bid because that’s absurd. Big fights so rarely get made with purse bid and there’s a reason why: They’re far too big and complicated.”
But perhaps this is out of Stevenson’s hands. Maybe he really has no say in this. For the time being, the PBC universe simply doesn’t intersect with the rest of the boxing cosmos.
It seems as though that Kovalev’s and Main Events (and HBO’s) focus is now on Andre Ward for 2016.
“Again,” said Duva, “if Kovalev fights Ward at the end of next year – which is starting to look like it’s very possible – who’s going to remember Adonis Stevenson after that? Who’s gonna care? What are they gonna say? Sergey’s ducking Stevenson by fighting Andre Ward? That’s kinda stupid. So again, [Stevenson] has one more shot at this. They’re out there saying that [Stevenson] wants to fight [Kovalev] next, soon as [Stevenson] knows [Kovalev]’s committed to fighting in January. Literally two days after he knows what Sergey’s committed to fight in January, they’re writing letters to the WBC after we got the fight done.”
(Yeah, hell hath no fury like a Duva scorned.)
She continued, “Y’ know what? If the reporters and the people who follow this stuff on Twitter are going to be dumb enough to buy this, let them. This is absurd. We wanted the purse bid last time, not because they wanted the fight, because they wanted Sergey to walk away from it because he had to. And that’s over now. We’re sitting there saying, ’50/50 split, we’ll go to Canada.’ I don’t really know how we can do more than that but I’ll tell you one thing: If Sergey fights Ward at the end of the next year and wins, that 50/50 split is gone forever. It’s not happening. The fight might, someday, maybe. But we started out at two-thirds – one-third split in Stevenson’s favor when Al Haymon pulled him out of the fight and now he’s going to pull him out of a 50/50 split. But basically that’s must be what happened this weekend and, by the time this fight does happen, Adonis Stevenson will be lucky if he’s getting a percentage of anything. He’s just getting a straight purse.
“He has become completely marginalized by his management that finds a way to make fighters’ reputations decline while they continually win fights. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
As for Stevenson’s short-term future, Michel admitted, “I don’t know for the moment. Now that we know Kovalev is fighting with Pascal, we are trying to set a date for [Stevenson]. It might be December, January or February, We’re looking at the likes of Yunieski Gonzalez, someone who looked good when he fought Pascal. That would be a good choice. There are other guys like Edwin Rodriguez or a rematch with Andrzej Fonfara. There’s a couple of possibilities, so we have to evaluate that with him and his manager.”
Here’s the latest installment of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly.
It was officially announced on Tuesday that Takashi Miura’s WBC 130-pound title defense against Francisco Vargas and a featherweight fight between Jayson Velez and Ronny Rios were added to the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view telecast on Nov. 21…Artur Beterbiev has been scratched from his Nov. 28 appearance on Showtime with a right shoulder injury that will require minor surgery…I will be on the call for RingTV Live this Friday night as Joseph Diaz and Frankie Gomez co-headline at the Fantasy Springs Casino…Re-watched the Miami-Virginia Tech game. Stacy Coley is starting to look like the player he was during his freshman year…Seriously, I gotta wake up at 9 a.m. to watch the ‘Canes play Clemson?!…Not sure I like the direction of this season’s “Scandal” on ABC…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.