Last Saturday afternoon in front of a rather muted throng at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson scored a rather pedestrian 12-round decision over Sakio Bika. Moving forward, the question is: Will Stevenson finally step into the ring with Sergey Kovalev?
We all remember last year that the two seemed destined for a collision course but Stevenson spurned the fight and HBO by signing with Al Haymon, who steered him in a different direction.
Since that juncture, Stevenson has faced the trio of Andrzej Fonfara, Dmitry Sukhotsky and Bika. Meanwhile Kovalev, in the immediate aftermath of Stevenson’s retreat, mowed down Cedric Agnew and then Blake Caparello. However, more importantly, in his last two outings, Kovalev conclusively defeated Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. While Stevenson has the lineal claim, right now “Krusher” is the people’s choice as the 175-pound king.
But prior to Stevenson-Bika, the WBC did announce:
“The WBC has initiated the free negotiations period for the mandatory title defense between WBC light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev, with a purse offer date of April 17th, 2015, in case there is no agreement between the parties.
“The WBC is extremely proud to continue with the task of securing the fights that the fans want and deserve to see. During the historic 52nd Annual Convention in Las Vegas in December of last year, the WBC voted unanimously in favor of a proposal which would lead to the unification of the light heavyweight division. Since then, Stevenson defended the WBC title in December and Kovalev defeated Jean Pascal to determine the mandatory challenger with a spectacular victory that was also for the WBC Diamond belt.
“Stevenson has a voluntary title defense scheduled for April 4 against former WBC super middleweight world champion Sakio Bika and Kovalev has his mandatory commitment scheduled for the IBF.
“These are very exciting times for boxing. The WBC is very happy to be part of them, and is committed to continue this path.”
So has Main Events begun the process of making this fight a reality with the sanctioning body or Stevenson’s representatives?
“We haven’t heard a word; we’re probably going to write them a letter today asking about that because they never ordered a negotiation period, which is odd,” said Kathy Duva, who clarified that they only received a letter from the WBC notifying them of a purse bid. Prior to Kovalev’s bout with Pascal, the WBC ruled that the winner would be entitled to a 50/50 split in a purse bid with Stevenson.
“I wanted to wait till after the Bika fight rather then send letters before – not knowing whether Stevenson would win – now we’re going to send a letter and find out,” stated Duva on Tuesday.
But there is still one issue that wont go away – Kovalev’s IBF mandatory defense versus Nadjib Mohammedi, which is due next. Main Events made it very clear that they would fulfill this obligation after facing Pascal. And according to Duva, this agreement came with the blessing of the WBC. “When I appeared before them,” she recalled, “I not only explained it to them, that in their resolution, when they acknowledged it, and said this would all happen after the fight with Mohammedi.”
(As for the Mohammedi fight, Duva says, “I’m still working on that. I got three possible sites. I hope to have that all ironed out by the end of this week.”)
UCNLive.com reached out to Michel with no response.
OK, so where do we stand realistically with this? Are we any closer to the one light heavyweight fight the boxing public clamors for? Or is this just gamesmanship by everybody involved? Stevenson is in the Haymon/PBC universe while Kovalev is ensconced on HBO and, as you know by now, the two worlds don’t intersect. What are the likely scenarios that will take place? Well, here’s a few that are conceivable…
– Armed with his deep war chest of capital, Haymon wins the purse bid, ensuring that one of his networks and his hired promoter runs the event. And while this would seem to be an incredibly lucrative option for Kovalev and Main Events, you wonder if they would jeopardize their long-term relationship with HBO by jumping across the street to face Stevenson on Showtime, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN or – who knows? – Bounce TV.
Is there a chance that Kovalev and his reps decide to walk away from this fight based on network loyalties? Perhaps this is why Michel is so hell-bent on having a quick purse bid.
– Or maybe Kovalev and Main Events go the Pernell Whitaker/Shelly Finkel route (where they went to face Julio Cesar Chavez on Showtime’s airwaves back in 1993, angering HBO executives to a point that one famously threatened to beat up Finkel at the next press conference – and yes, this is one of the all-time great boxing stories I’ve heard) and take the bait – and the bushel full of Haymon money. The question is: Would this come with the blessing of HBO or not?
– Then there’s the anarchy scenario: A purse bid is set for Stevenson-Kovalev and outta nowhere, Roc Nation Sports comes with an exorbitant offer and wins the promotional rights to this match-up (and hey, if there’s one thing Jay Z’s outfit can do, it’s win a purse bid, especially when a Haymon boxer is involved) and then they put it on as the opening bout to Andre Ward on BET.
“That’d be pretty funny,” admitted Duva last week when this possibility was brought up, chuckling at the thought. “I’d laugh my ass off.”
OPENING DAY FLURRIES
The IBF has ruled that if Lamont Peterson doesn’t beat Danny Garcia in their 143-pound catchweight bout this weekend, he will be stripped of the organization’s 140-pound title… “Chavez-Fonfara: All Access” on Showtime premieres on April 10…So has Amir Khan announced any more fights for himself that he’ll later refute?…The official countdown is on for “Game of Thrones” on HBO…“3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me is now available on iTunes…There’s a good chance that by the time you read this, I’ll be on my flight to (Viva) Puerto Rico…And yes, I’m packing my whole arsenal of shorts and sandals for the rest of the week…Yeah, it’s pretty clear that Adrian Peterson doesn’t want to play in Minnesota anymore…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.