- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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How dangerous is emerging super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson? Very.
That's why promoter Yvon Michel has been looking through the IBF's rankings one contender at a time for more than a month in search of a rated opponent willing to face the Montreal knockout artist.
Stevenson, who is trained by Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward, is due to fight in a title eliminator -- if he can find an opponent -- on Aug. 11 at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the Tavoris Cloud-Jean Pascal light heavyweight title fight undercard (Showtime).
Stevenson has been scoring one spectacular knockout after another in recent fights, including a crushing first-round destruction of Jesus Gonzalez in February (a legit knockout of the year contender in my book) and his second-round blowout of Noe Gonzalez on April 20 on "Friday Night Fights."
The winner of Stevenson's Aug. 11 fight is due to become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Carl Froch, who knocked out Montreal's biggest boxing star, Lucian Bute, to win the belt on May 26.
So far, those who have declined the eliminator against Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) include Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Mikkel Kessler and Kelly Pavlik.
Michel has worked his way down to No. 8 in the IBF rankings and thinks he may have found his man, the always-dangerous former world title challenger Sakio Bika (30-5, 21 KOs), who is coming off an excellent 10th-round knockout of Dyah Davis on June 2.
"We are now negotiating with Golden Boy Promotions and Team Bika," Michel told me Tuesday. "Showtime loves that fight. We have all the ingredients of an intense and extremely spectacular war. A Stevenson win, and he could make a huge statement in the division. We have made a good offer for Bika, but they seem to be reluctant to come [to Montreal]."
Michel said if an agreement can't be reached with Bika, Stevenson's side is willing to go to a purse bid and see what happens. But Michel has a good relationship with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer and is hopeful that they can work something out.
"I am convinced we will come to a negotiated agreement," Michel said.
And if not? The search will continue.