- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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After securing a light heavyweight title unification fight for Sergey Kovalev, promoter Main Events dropped its lawsuit against Adonis Stevenson on Monday.
Main Events had filed a suit in New York federal court in late April after Stevenson reneged on a deal Main Events said it had with him. But on Friday, Main Events secured a unification fight for Kovalev with Bernard Hopkins, who holds two of the 175-pound world titles. As a result, Main Events dropped its suit against Stevenson, promoter Yvon Michel, his company Groupe Yvon Michel, Stevenson adviser Al Haymon, Golden Boy Promotions, former Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer and Showtime.
"We decided there are no damages," Main Events attorney Pat English told ESPN.com Monday after he filed the paperwork with the court. "Since the filing of the lawsuit the circumstances changed in that Main Events, Golden Boy, Hopkins and Kovalev have agreed to a major unification fight in the light heavyweight division.
"This was the goal that Main Events had for Kovalev and it also eliminated any damages we may have had. As a result, we dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning if something goes awry we can reinstate the complaint. But we don't anticipate any problems. It's now Stevenson who is on the outside looking in."
Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com, "We are pleased this matter has been resolved. [We] look forward to an exciting fight between Hopkins and Kovalev and remain committed to partnering with anyone and everyone in the boxing community who shares our vision of giving fans the fights they want to see."
Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) knocked out Blake Caparello in the second round on Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to preserve the fight with Hopkins, which had been signed on Friday afternoon.
Kovalev had hoped to face Stevenson in a fall unification fight on HBO. Main Events and HBO claimed they made a deal with Stevenson and Michel for the fight but that they reneged, instead following the advice of Haymon, Stevenson's newly-signed adviser, by accepting an offer from Showtime for a May tune-up fight to be followed by what was supposed to be a fall unification bout with Hopkins.
Stevenson-Kovalev was to take place on HBO following each man having a tune-up fight. Kovalev knocked out Cedric Agnew on March 29 and Stevenson was to face Andrezj Fonfara on May 24, a fight he won by decision. But just days before Kovalev-Agnew, Stevenson signed a deal at Showtime, faced Fonfara on that network and dismissed the notion of the fall fight with Kovalev.
Hopkins had also been fighting on Showtime and the primary reason Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs) went there was for an eventual fight with Hopkins. But while Stevenson-Hopkins was in discussions, it was never finalized and with Hopkins facing an IBF-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. ET Friday to get a unification fight signed -- or be ordered to make a mandatory defense -- Hopkins and his promoter, Golden Boy, stepped on the gas and made a deal to fight Kovalev instead, needing a little more than a day to go from the first phone call between Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez and Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva to a signed contract.
Hopkins much preferred unifying titles for significant money over facing unknown mandatory challenger Nadjib Mohammedi of France for what would likely have been short money. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs), who will turn 50 in January, unified two belts April 19 by dropping and outpointing Beibut Shumenov in a dominant performance.
"The purpose of the lawsuit was to secure a unification bout for Sergey and allow him to face the top competition in the light heavyweight division," Duva said. "By signing on with Hopkins and Golden Boy Promotions for a three-title unification bout, Main Events secured the big fight that Sergey wanted. We no longer have damages, so we will not proceed with the litigation at this time."
The lawsuit contended that Michel and Stevenson backed out of a deal for Stevenson-Kovalev and that Haymon interfered with the agreement, conspiring with Golden Boy and Showtime to instead match Stevenson with Hopkins in the fall.
Hopkins-Kovalev will take place in November, likely Nov. 8, at either Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
3dMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information