Dan Rafael: Andrzej Finfara
February, 19, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Ramon Cairo for ESPNPowerful adviser Al Haymon works behind the scenes with some of the best fighters in boxing.Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson surprised many on Tuesday when he signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon.
Stevenson signed the papers in California with Sam Watson, Haymon's right-hand man. Watson said he has known Stevenson for a while and that Stevenson has wanted to sign with Haymon because the boxer has seen what Haymon has been able to do for his numerous clients.
"This is a big signing for me," Stevenson told ESPN.com. "I've known Sam a long time and wanted to be with Al. It will be better for me and my career and give me better opportunities."
Said Watson, "It's big fights for Adonis."
What is unclear is whether the signing will have an impact on the game plan already in motion for Stevenson, or if it just means that Haymon will work to get Stevenson a better deal for the fights that are in the works.
Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs) is supposed to be back in action for his third title defense on May 24, when he is planning to headline an HBO card in his hometown of Montreal against Chicago-based Poland native Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs). However, that fight is not signed yet. A Stevenson victory would supposedly lead to a fall unification showdown with titleholder Sergey Kovalev, who fights his interim bout against Cedric Agnew on March 29 in Atlantic City, N.J., in the main event of his own card. That fight is not signed either, and Haymon may have other ideas for Stevenson.
Haymon, of course, is essentially a recluse and does not speak to the media, so don't expect to hear from him on the matter.
However, it is common knowledge that HBO -- which has made Stevenson-Kovalev one of its 2014 priorities -- and Haymon are on the outs following the defection last year of Haymon’s No. 1 client, Floyd Mayweather Jr., to Showtime.
Additionally, Haymon represents numerous Golden Boy fighters, including Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Beibut Shumenov, Devon Alexander, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. After Mayweather left HBO, the network banned Golden Boy fighters and those boxers wound up on Showtime, even though HBO had poured considerable resources into many of them.
HBO did make one exception for a Haymon fighter -- when Edwin Rodriguez (who is promoted by Lou DiBella, not Golden Boy) fought super middleweight champ Andre Ward in November. However, the deal for that fight was way down the road to being completed before Rodriguez signed with Haymon. Perhaps it will be the same thing with regard to Stevenson and the fights against Fonfara and Kovalev that are being lined up for him by promoter Yvon Michel.
Watson said Haymon and Michel spoke on Tuesday about the signing and had a "good conversation."
Michel told ESPN.com that he expected to still go forward planning the fights with Fonfara and Kovalev.
"Adonis' goals have not changed," Michel said. "He wants three fights [in 2014], wants to unify the titles, be considered in the top five pound for pound before the end of the year and keep winning by spectacular knockout. I can also add making a lot of money. We are still moving forward in our negotiations. Al Haymon is certainly a great asset for Adonis and for us and his presence can only be positive."
Said Stevenson, "We haven't made any fights yet but whatever my promoter and Al say I should do, that's the way I'm going to go. I'll fight anybody. Al has a plan that will be good for me. I'm ready for anything. My job is to knock everybody out."
Watson said that Haymon has also signed John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs), the former lightweight title challenger who fought at junior welterweight in his last fight in November. Watson said Molina plans to continue to fight at 140 pounds.