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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Stevenson seeks eliminator foe

By Dan Rafael

Super middleweight contender Adonis "Superman" Stevenson of Montreal, who has scored some devastating knockouts in recent fights and is simply must-see TV, is going to fight on Aug. 11 on Showtime in the televised undercard of the Tavoris Cloud-Jean Pascal light heavyweight title bout at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

The question is, whom will Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) fight?

The bout is supposed to be a title eliminator in which the winner will become the mandatory challenger for newly crowned titleholder Carl Froch, who drilled Lucian Bute last Saturday night to win a 168-pound title for the third time.

On Tuesday, the IBF ordered Stevenson (No. 2 in its rankings; the No. 1 spot is vacant) to face No. 3 Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), a fine rising contender last seen outpointing Donovan George in March on the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin undercard, to fight in the eliminator.

The IBF sent a letter ordering the fight to Yvon Michel, Stevenson's promoter, and Ron Rizzo, who handles such matters for Lou DiBella's company, DiBella Entertainment, which promotes Rodriguez.

The camps have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to accept the bout in writing. Michel wrote back to the IBF immediately and accepted the fight for Stevenson. If Rodriguez's camp doesn't respond or declines, the IBF will tab the next available and eligible fighter at the top of its list of contenders to find Stevenson's opponent.

By the sound of things, don't expect Rodriguez to participate.

"I'm waiting to talk to [manager] Larry [Army] and the kid, but my advice would be not to take the fight," DiBella told me on Wednesday afternoon. "I don't want to fight him in Canada against a guy who can do only one thing -- and that's punch. I don't like those kind of guys. Besides, Edwin got a little dinged up in the gym and I don't even know if he would be ready by Aug. 11."

DiBella also said he felt no pressure for Rodriguez to accept the bout, because he already has a spot locked up for Rodriguez on a Sept. 29 HBO card. DiBella added that Rodriguez might take an Aug. 3 fight on the promoter's "Broadway Boxing" series if Rodriguez is healthy (although it won't be against anybody of consequence).

If Rodriguez indeed declines, which I expect he will do, the next available opponent would be No. 6 Thomas Oosthuizen, who is also with DiBella. DiBella didn't sound interested in making that fight, either.

Then there is No. 7 James DeGale of England, whom I don't think would be likely to leave England for the fight. Several other contenders ranked by the IBF are unavailable because of injury or previously scheduled bouts.

It seems to me that the most likely candidates to face Stevenson are either No. 9 Pablo Farias (20-2, 12 KOs) of Argentina or No. 13 George. Two fights ago, Farias was wiped out in a fifth-round knockout by Arthur Abraham. George (22-2-1, 19 KOs) hasn't fought since the loss to Rodriguez, but his promoter, Leon Margules, told me Wednesday afternoon that his side is interested.

"We want the fight," he said.

So if the fight winds up being Stevenson against George for the right to challenge Froch, you'll understand why.