According to Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, the recently signed light heavyweight standout Adonis Stevenson, the Montreal resident who holds the WBC's 175 pound belt, has no problem taking a fight with Sergio Kovalev.
Espinoza told on Saturday night me that Stevenson, who jumped ship from HBO to Showtime, after latching on with uber advisor Al Haymon, agreed to meet the Russian boxer who holds the WBO strap.
I asked Espinoza if the best-case gameplan for Stevenson would look like this: a May 24 fight against Chicago-based Pole Andrzej Fonfara on May 24, on Showtime, followed by a clash against Bernard Hopkins, and assuming he wins that–a large assumption, by the way, as I'd choose Hopkins to mete out some schooling to Adonis, for the record–a faceoff against Kovalev.
“Why not?” Espinoza rhetorically replied. “If Kovalev's available…Except for some reason (Kovalev's promoter) Kathy Duva seems interested only in HBO and not in maximizing revenues.”
I asked for clarity then. Did Adonis sign something? Or make a verbal agreement to that three fight plan?
“Agreed to,” Espinoza replied. “Assuming Kovalev is available. He's not available now.”
That's fair to say. But HBO, and by and large, many folks in the business, aren't keen to parcel out such info as how long deals are for. No need to let foes get that intel, after all. I can only go by the lines I was reading between, and that's no exact science, that it FELT to me like HBO signed Kovalev to a longer term deal than, say, an Agnew plus one deal.
If they did, and it was for, say, five fights, that brings us to late 2015, and the Kovalev-Adonis pairing becomes less interesting to talk about, because we all know so much could occur in so many months. Still some “ifs” and some blanks to be filled in on this situation, I'm afraid…
If the HBO Kovalev deal is for five or so fights, then I'm guessing the Kovalev Crew, the hardcore Twitter rooters who spew insults at Adonis for past misdeeds, will not stop accusing the Haitian-born hitter of being a ducker. They'll note that it's easy to agree in principle to fight a guy who is contractually bound to the opposition and they'll continue to make quacking sounds.
If the Kovalev deal is only for one more fight beyond the one that Kovalev took part in tonight, then this Showtime three fight plan becomes more meaningful, because it 1) means Adonis can legit blow off the ducking accusations and 2) Mr. Kovalev can possibly look forward to a juicy bidding war for his services if he wishes to go that route.
All in all, this leaves me wishing for peace, love and enough understandin' to get all the people in the game liking each other just enough to get some deals made so we don't miss out on the best fighting the best scenarios. Boxing, ideally, needs to function in the same way all the other big leagues do…as one league. The networks and promoters can still freelance, of course, that's part of the beauty of the sport, no commissioner drawing up a fight schedule a year in advance. But right now, it's like we have NFL A and NFL B leagues not intermingling. And the longer this impasse lasts, the more frustration is going to pile up, and the more opportunities are going to be lost. C'mon people, smile on your brother…
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