Poetic Irony for Main Events
While most of the focus is on Atlantic City where Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins battle for light heavyweight supremacy on HBO this Saturday (10:45 p.m. ET), Main Events – which handles the “Krusher” – is also promoting a card at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania featuring a heavyweight tilt between Amir Mansour and Frederick Kassi. It’s their final edition of “Fight Night” on the NBC Sports Network (8:30 p.m. ET).
There is an irony in this given that Kovalev first came into our collective consciousness in the States with his appearances on this series versus Lionell Thompson, Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White. On a night in which Kovalev can vault to real stardom, Main Events and NBC Sports Network will be parting ways.
“I think it’s poetic; it’s so sad to see that happen,” says the head of Main Events, Kathy Duva. “I’ve been telling people that the last show – the one we did in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago – was my last show to be at. I can’t be at two places at one and it felt like high school graduation, y’know? You’re excited and sad at the same time, feeling nostalgic and scared to death at the same time about what’s going to come next and we have November 8th, that last show and we’re going to what might be a whole new wonderful future with Sergey Kovalev, which is certainly what we hope to happen and what I think is going to happen.
“So it’s frightening; it’s scary and it’s exciting and it’s time. So you graduate high school; it’s time to move on. You can’t be there forever and that’s pretty much the message of November 8th.”
Kovalev, who currently holds the WBO 175-pound strap and has become an HBO staple, is the best thing to come out of this series. “Well, he’s certainly the most accomplished fighter right now,” Duva told UCNLive.com. Duva also points out the likes of Karl Dargan and Vasily Lipikhin (who is on the card in Bethlehem) as others who will soon graduate to larger platforms post-“Fight Night.”
“I don’t think Sergey’s going to be the last of the group that goes on to potentially becoming a marquee fighter. He’s just going to be the first and we’ll have to wait a long time to look back and see which guy came out of the series and became the biggest star but somebody already has and I think others will. That was our goal – to build stars – and I think we did a spectacular job of it,” said Duva of the series that began in January of 2012. “At last count, there was about 20 guys that had made it to premium cable, HBO or Showtime or major fights in their home countries like Tyson Fury. We found prospects nobody ever heard off like Sergey Kovalev; we showcased people who were not our fighters, who were on their way to bigger and better things like Chris Algieri and Tyson Fury. We brought veterans who put on tremendous performances like Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek.
“Gabe Rosado, my Lord, look at him; who would’ve thought this was going to be a regular player on premium cable? Well, he fought on the opening fight on the first show. The guys that have stayed with us like Sergey have had great success, guys like Rosado and Bryant Jennings, who didn’t stay with us that found other places. They all took that NBC ‘bump’ that we gave them and took it other places.”
Other boxers like Curtis Stevens took the constant exposure of this series and was able to parlay it into a shot against Gennady Golovkin last year on HBO.
“In a space of what will amount in the end to 22 shows, that many fighters developed and became factors in the sport and I’m really proud of that,” Duva continued. “I’m really proud of myself, of my staff, of all the fighters. The guys who fought on our shows basically understood the same thing: you have to work to get somewhere. We won’t be handing anything to you; you gotta go out there and take it. There’s your opportunity and the guys who did thrived and I’m really happy about that.”
There is a belief that NBC Sports Network will be handing over its boxing reins over to one Al Haymon (as was stated by Duva in this story in which she outlined her belief in what will happen: Kathy Duva outlines Al Haymon’s deal with NBC Sports – Boxing News). It was a bit stunning to hear that Main Events, based on its track record, was being bounced from the network.
“Disbelief,” was Duva’s reaction to the news, “because we had just come off the two highest ratings we’ve ever done consecutively. We’d just come off what I think is the best show we ever did, which was on April 3rd, when the opening fight, Curtis Stevens and Tureano Johnson fight this unbelievable heart-stopping fight that [Stevens] literally pulled out in the last second and then followed by the fight between [Steve] Cunningham and Mansour, which I still think is a candidate for ‘Fight of the Year,’ followed by this heart-breaking interview Mansour gave after the fight.
“I mean, you had everything that night, drama, excitement, thrills, humor; you name it. It ran the gamut and at the end of the show, I felt like, ‘Wow, we nailed it.’ It was time to go in and negotiate for the next year. So we were a little surprised when I was told, ‘Sorry, we’re going to end the series.’ It took awhile for me to believe it. I kept thinking, ‘There’s must be something to it. There must be some reason,’ and then we started to hear all the rumors,” stated Duva, who understands the realities of the business. “So whatever, life doesn’t always give you exactly what you want or what you’ve earned but what we did get was an opportunity to prove ourselves and show what we could do.
“To give great opportunities to people like Sergey Kovalev, who had a dream and literally could not get a promoter to look at him. Look at the situation now; I’ve got to compete to sign Russian fighters. Now everybody wants them. So we came a long way with the series.”
But after this weekend, win, lose or draw with Kovalev, Main Events must move on and build toward the future. Duva says she is “having discussions with other networks.” They will have an ESPN2 card in the early portion of 2015 and should Kovalev win on Saturday night, he will have an HBO date in March awaiting him.
“I stand in the same place I have every year since our company was formed in 1978 with the exception of the last three years, which were wonderful because I knew what was coming with NBC. But I stand in this place where I have every single year in the past,” she says. “We’ve managed to make it work. So I have some faith that we’ll keep doing that. There are a few different things out there and we’ll mish-mash a few things together, a few things might fall in place.
“We’ll be fine; we’ll get there. We always do.”
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has signed on with Haymon, which went over like a fart in church with Top Rank Promotions and Bob Arum. The bottom line is that Chavez Jr. simply doesn’t want to fight for Top Rank anymore and Top Rank isn’t going away easily here.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday that Top Rank had filed suit against Chavez Jr. back in August, stating it has a promotional claim on him till April of 2016 (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/boxing/top-rank-alleges-it-has-right-to-promote-julio-cesar-chavez-jr–until-april-2016-222747093.html)
It’s very simple; either Arum/Top Rank takes a hefty buyout from Haymon and Chavez to walk away or there will be a long legal battle (which could get VERY interesting).
Here’s episode 504 of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me, where we preview Hopkins-Kovalev:
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS FLURRIES
According to Ms Duva, there is no rematch clause of any sort for Hopkins-Kovalev…The referee for that fight on Saturday night will be Dave Fields…A bout between Rocky Juarez and Robinson Castellanos is being planned for a January edition of “Golden Boy Live!” on FOX Sports 1, according to Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Robert Diaz…Diaz also says newly-minted IBF bantamweight titlist Randy Caballero will make his first defense in February at Fantasy Springs Casino…The Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew grudge match will be televised in the States on November 22 on AWE…So when is Adrian Peterson returning to the gridiron?…Andrew Luck has to be considered an elite quarterback now, right?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive.