Stevenson-Kovalev plan in motion
January, 27, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
A couple of weeks ago, as part of an appearance on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" -- see the video above -- I was asked to give my opinion on the two fights I most hoped would happen in 2014.
My No. 1 pick (in the non-Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao category, of course), which many fight fans told me after the fact that they wholeheartedly agreed with, was a light heavyweight showdown between champion Adonis Stevenson and titleholder Sergey Kovalev. Well, there is an excellent chance that we will get our wish of seeing the crowd-pleasing knockout artists fight this year.
The fighters' camps, working closely with HBO, are in the process of making a deal that would see Stevenson and Kovalev square off for 175-pound supremacy in the fall in Montreal, provided each wins an interim bout, both of which are in the works for HBO dates.
The promoters and network didn't want to go into details, but Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev, gave me one quote when I asked her about the plan on Monday:
"Negotiations are ongoing and I am optimistic," Duva said.
From what I'm told, the sides are already exchanging paperwork on the deal for the Stevenson-Kovalev fight in the fall, but everything is contingent on them taking care of other business first.
Russia's Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KOs), 30, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is penciled in to headline a March 29 card at Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. His opponent isn't signed, but it could be Cedric Agnew (26-0, 13 KOs), a 27-year-old from Chicago who has some decent wins on his record, including those against former title challenger Yusaf Mack, Daniel Judah and Otis Griffin.
Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs), 36, who scored four knockouts in his four 2013 fights, including a one-punch first-round knockout of Chad Dawson to win the world title, will likely have his interim bout May 24 or May 31 in his hometown of Montreal. He will likely face Chicago-based Poland native Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs), 26, who has been featured a few times on FNF. He owns wins against former titlist Gabriel Campillo and former champ Glen Johnson.
Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who represents Fonfara, and Stevenson promoter Yvon Michel have exchanged deal points for the fight. Both sides want to make the matchup, and the promoters are meeting this week in South Florida to discuss it in person.
The plan to eventually match Stevenson and Kovalev began to be hatched on Nov. 30, when the fighters appeared on the same HBO card together in Quebec City. Stevenson knocked out mandatory challenger Tony Bellew in the sixth round of a one-sided fight in the main event and Kovalev destroyed Ismayl Sillakh in the second round of the co-feature.