By Lem Satterfield
Sergey Kovalev’s handlers are insisting that a deal is in place for the WBO light heavyweight titleholder to fight RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson in September on HBO should Stevenson get beyond a May 24 defense against Andrzej Fonfara on Showtime.
Stevenson (23-1, 20 knockouts) says a more lucrative offer from Showtime than that from HBO was the reason he and promoter Yvon Michel moved their bout with Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs) to Showtime — this, after HBO opted not to renegotiate its agreement with the boxer.
But Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), informed RingTV.com on Monday that Michel not only agreed to Stevenson-Kovalev, but that she has notified Michel of her intentions to enforce the terms she claims they agreed to through an e-mail exchange on Jan. 24.
Duva said Main Events attorney, Pat English, sent the letter of notification to Michel’s lawyer, Leon Margules, on Monday.
“We have informed Yvon Michel through his attorney today that we have a deal, and that our deal memo was exchanged on Jan. 24 with all of the terms, and that deal memo referenced the amount of money that we would accept from HBO, and we have that amount of money from HBO. So we expect them to be there and ready to fight according to the terms of this deal,” said Duva.
“But it would have to be in September, now, because they had a deadline in which to inform us that the fight would be in October. They were trying to do a deal in Las Vegas for October, so they asked us for the right to do either or, and we agreed on that. But that deadline has passed, so I guess that it would be in late September, and it would be in Montreal, and we have that amount of money from HBO that we agreed that we would accept.”
Would Duva consider taking legal action, if need be?
“We’re reserving all of our rights at this point as we explained to them,” said Duva. “We have a history of protecting our rights, and we’ll reserve all of our options at this point. No decision has been made.”
With the request that they not be published, RingTV.com has obtained a copy of the exchange of the e-mails between Duva and Michel in which the deal appears to have been mutually agreed upon.
Margules acknowledged having been informed of the developments.
“Yes, I’ve received the letter. But I don’t believe that there is a lot of merit in their case, if any,” said Margules. “Any comments or issues relating to whether there is a fight or not a fight, you would have to talk to Yvon Michel.”
Michel could not be reached for an immediate comment.
Both Stevenson and Michel have said that Stevenson stands not only to make a career-high for facing Fonfara, but that the amount that he will pocket is more than that being offered by HBO for a clash with Kovalev, who scored three knockdowns during Saturday night’s seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Cedric Agnew on HBO.
“I am going to make more money fighting Fonfara than HBO was going to give me to fight Kovalev,” said Stevenson during a Sunday telephone call to RingTV.com. “That makes no sense that I can make more money fighting Fonfara than I was going to make fighting Kovalev in a unification fight.”
Showtime already is the home of Golden Boy Promotions’ 175-pound counterparts Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov, who will put their respective IBF and WBA belts on the line against each other on April 19.
In February, Stevenson signed with powerful advisor Al Haymon, most of whose fighters are promoted by Golden Boy and fight on the Showtime network.
Given HBO has severed ties with Golden Boy and Hopkins has expressed the desire to face Stevenson, that could well be in the cards, should the former undisputed middleweight champion beat Shumenov.
Stevenson told RingTV.com that he would return to HBO to fight Kovalev, but only if the network increases its offer.
“Ask HBO, ‘Can they show me the money?’ That’s the problem with the Kovalev fight,” said Stevenson. “It’s about the money. Don’t you think that it’s a pay-per-view fight between me and Kovalev? I think they need to pay for that.”
Stevenson went 4-0 over the course of 2013, in succession, with knockouts of Boone, Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew in the sixth, first, seventh and sixth rounds, respectively. Stevenson’s victories over Dawson, Cloud and Bellew were all televised by HBO.
“I like HBO and they supported me and they helped me to get ‘Fighter of The Year 2013,'” said Stevenson, “but at the end of the day, it’s business and it’s time to get paid and Showtime gave me more money.”
But Duva insists that Stevenson must fight Kovalev for the amount agreed to by HBO, and for not a penny more.
“Our deal with Yvon Michel was not contingent on him entering into a multi-fight deal with HBO. It simply says, ‘This is the way that we’ll split the money, and this is how much we will accept. We will accept this amount of money from HBO,’ and we have that. That’s a contract, and that’s a deal. We don’t care about his fight with Fonfara. That can happen on Showtime, or it can happen on the moon,” said Duva.
“We don’t care when he fights him, if he fights him or where he fights him. That’s got nothing to do with the deal that we made. We have a deal with HBO for these two guys to fight in September on HBO. It says that specifically that we will accept the figure from HBO, and it describes the range within which the figure needs to be, and that’s the amount that we have. We agreed to that with HBO, and as I said, the exchange of e-mails states that we have both agreed on how much money we would accept, and we have that amount.”
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Source: The Ring