I heard on the grapevine that talks are underway for a Sergey Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins fight, so I checked in with Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, and the boss at Main Events.
So, are there talks underway which would pit the Russian hammerfisted terminator type against the aged but still world class master craftsman who has forgotten more than all the rest of the active pros know?
“We’ve had a talk about having a talk,” said Duva, chuckling. “But we have not a had a talk. And “we” is Eric Gomez (at Golden Boy Promotions), a talk about having a talk.” Duva said Gomez, who is now charged with more duties at the reformulated Golden Boy, after Oscar and ex pal, banker buddy Richard Schaefer parted ways in most acrimonious fashion, told her he’d be in touch about this matter by a certain date, and that date came and went.
But, when I put forth that maybe that talk of that fight might be spinning of wheels, Duva said no, as she told Gomez, Kovalev has eyes trained on his Aug. 2 AC date with Blake Caparello. And Main Events is busy banging the drums for that one, in circumstances that got a bit muddier when it was announced about two weeks ago that the Revel casino, host of the card, will be shuttered soon. AFTER the boxing event, Duva made sure to hammer home to me…
So, she said, let’s get through this promotion, and then there will be ample time to hammer out whatever is next for Kovalev. Also, it should go without saying, but it won’t, because we all need periodic reminders, nothing is set in stone till the stone is set. Caparello might just—one does never know until one KNOWS—mess up even tentative plans for Kovalev’s continued ascent. “Once this fight is over, we are going to make a decision very quickly about what Sergey does next,” she said. “So you guys (Golden Boy) better make your decisions very clear about what you want to do.”
Some of you might be thinking, hey, wait a minute…isn’t there a rule being adhered to, one put in place by HBO last year, that they don’t want to be doing business with Golden Boy. Ah, yes and no.
This is the new, re-formulated Golden Boy. The Richard Schaefer-less Golden Boy.
Many of you do know that there was the suggestion of a mini-thawing, I guess you could call it, in this Cold War, the one that has entities taking sides, with HBO buying most of its product from Bob Arum of Top Rank, and Showtime buying just about all its fare from Golden Boy, and most of that involving fighters repped by Al Haymon. HBO, you recall, got sick of dealing with seeing fighters they believed they built up running across the street, to Showtime, with, in their minds, Haymon being the broker-bad-guy, pitting two sides against each other, to drive up purses for fighters he reps. So, last year, HBO said no mas. They weren’t going to be putting near and long-ish range plans into activation, and seeing them go off the rails, because people they were working on building-up took their toolbox over to the competition.
I asked someone in the know at HBO a couple days ago who didn’t want to speak on the record about the concept of a greater thaw, and that person indicated to me, in so many words, that the game has changed. Not wholly, not fully, not with any grand pronouncement. But, this person said, we put it out there publicly not long ago that our doors are open to dealing with all parties for fights and deals that make sense. Which leads us to a Kovalev-Hopkins fight. That’s a heckuva deal, a fight which would be much anticipated by all fight fans.
Now, I wouln’t go outside, with your megaphone, and announce to the world that all are playing nice, that this Lomachenko-Gary Russell June 21 scrap was the hors d’ouevres and this Kovalev-Hopkins tiff will be served up as the main course right quick. But I’m feeling like the thawing is continuing, that more varied deals will be made in this second half of the year in boxing, with HBO being amenable to working with this Oscar De La Hoya-led Golden Boy. Kovalev is tied in to fighting on HBO, by the way, and to my knowledge, Hopkins is NOT tied into having his bouts run on Showtime, so that could help pave the way to make this thaw-out special reach the serving stage.
Duva told me that yes, she gets the feeling that the thawing is in effect. The proof? Because this Kovalev-Hopkins bout is even being talked about…that’s proof in itself. “Exponentially,” she told me, when I asked about there being light at the end of the accursed tunnel of division.
“I want to hear (that HBO will work with Golden Boy, and all entities will be open to doing deals even with people they don’t call friends) that, as a promoter, because then more opportunities can be created, to work together. If everybody is just making matches in house, then what you get is a very stagnant, boring sport. I come from a time when we absolutely despised each other, but we’d come together to make a deal. Bernard Hopkins, I’ll say this if this is proof of HBO being willing to back up what they’re insinuating, Bernard Hopkins was a pre-approved opponent in that (multifight deal made for Kovalev’s next few fights earlier in 2014). It was always envisioned that perhaps times would change.”
Now, I do confess I have not figured what other shoe has dropped, and who was wearing it…or even if the damned thing has dropped at all. I did do a double take when I heard and saw Hopkins, basically besties with Richard Schaefer the last few five or so years, changing his tune, and saying he’d be open to fighting for Oscar’s Golden Boy. I sort of assumed that there would be a full split, with “Richard’s guys” going with him, and maybe fighting on Mayweather cards, and Oscar’s guys sticking behind with him, and fighting under the GBP umbrella still. I wondered aloud, does Hopkins’ change of tune maybe indicate that Schaefer has indicated to B-Hop that he will be out of commission for a spell, not being active in the sport, for whatever reasons, be they litigational or contractual…and that’s why Hopkins is singing a new tune?
No, Duva said, that’s not her perception. Her perception, she said, is that she thinks that Showtime isn’t interested in right now putting together a Hopkins vs. Adonis Stevenson fight. Why would that be, you might ask. That fight was on the back and then front burner for awhile. Maybe one reason, and I am purely theorizing here, is that it would seem more prudent not to mix up those ingredients in that fashion because of the ongoing suit lodged by Duva against Showtime, and Haymon and Stevenson, and Golden Boy and others. That suit is stemming from the busted deal from the spring which Duva maintains she had cemented, but which splintered when Stevenson latched on with Haymon. I think theorizing is all we’re going to get here, because you could also speculate that maybe some people think Stevenson is too obviously ripe to be picked off by Hopkins, and it might be “wiser” to have him fight lower-caliber opposition, to make it more likely that he retains a belt-holder at 175 pounds.
Anyway, the reasons why Hopkins might now be free to tangle with Kovalev are probably immaterial, if indeed this storyline continues to play out as it’s looking like it will.
“I’m totally open to it, I’d love to have the talks for Kovalev-Hopkins…but we haven’t had it,” Duva said, in closing.
Summation: Here's hoping that indeed we do continue to move more so towards a new period of if not wondrous co-existence, then at least a peaceable-enough atmosphere which sees the power brokers getting along well enough to sit int he same room enough long anough to make deals which us fans want to see. Hell, they can hose their nose the whole time, whisper expletives under their breath the whole time if they want to, as long as this ice age ends. Because the best need to be fighting the best, as often as possible...because if not, then our sport stagnates, and the fans get screwed, as do the athletes, because they aren't given a full slate of options to plot their course.
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