- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Wanted: 168-pound contender willing to face super middleweight blaster Adonis Stevenson.
Stevenson is having a harder time landing an opponent for his Aug. 11 title eliminator than Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is for his Sept. 15 junior middleweight title defense.
Once again, an International Boxing Federation-ranked contender has rejected a fight with the massive-punching Stevenson, or even the idea of going to a purse bid. The latest name to be scratched off the list is former title challenger Sakio Bika.
It's unfortunate because that probably would have been a very interesting fight.
Yvon Michel, who promotes Stevenson, was hopeful earlier this week that the fight with Bika could be made and was negotiating the bout with Bika's promoter, Golden Boy.
But almost as quickly as the talks began, they ended.
"Eliminators are not easy. Sakio Bika was the first guy who agreed to fight Stevenson," Lindsey Tucker, the championships chairman of IBF, told ESPN.com. "They could not agree, and I called for a purse bid on July 10. I just found out from Golden Boy [on Thursday] that Bika is pulling out because he says he can't be ready."
So much for that excellent fight.
So what now?
"We will continue down the list," Tucker said.
Michel said he was surprised that Bika ultimately declined because he thought the talks were going well.
"We have made a very generous offer, twice the amount they have offered to us to go on Sept. 8 [on the Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander undercard on Showtime]," Michel said. "First, Bika said he did not want to come in Canada. Second, he asked for all neutral officials, something I don't have control of."
Michel said the typical breakdown of referee and judges in a fight like this would have been two Canadian officials and two from outside Canada.
"I know [Golden Boy matchmaker] Eric Gomez was trying to convince Bika to come here," Michel said. "Finally, his answer was he did not have enough time to prepare."
Next up for the opportunity to turn down Stevenson is 11th-ranked Andre Dirrell. Who wants to bet that he won't take the fight, either?
"A lot of boxers are turning down Stevenson for all kind of reasons," Michel said. "[Thursday] the IBF has sent a letter to Andre Dirrell. He has three days to answer."
Stevenson's fight -- for the right to become the mandatory challenger for Carl Froch -- is supposed to be on Showtime on the undercard of Tavoris Cloud's light heavyweight title defense against former champion Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is the hometown of Pascal and Stevenson.
Bika is the latest to reject the bout against Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs). The list also includes Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Mikkel Kessler, Kelly Pavlik and now Bika.
And will soon include Dirrell, if my hunch is right.
Assuming Dirrell turns it down, the hunt will go on. Beyond that, the IBF's next leading contenders are Don George (12), Rowland Bryant (13), Librado Andrade (14) and Benjamin Simon (15).
Leon Margules, George's promoter, said they want the fight.
Wanted: 168-pound contender willing to face super middleweight blaster Adonis Stevenson.Stevenson is having a harder time landing an opponent for his Aug.