For weeks, promoter Yvon Michel steadfastly went down the rankings looking for a ranked contender to meet power puncher Adonis Stevenson in a title elimination bout that would give the winner a mandatory shot at super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch.
One by one, the fighters turned down Michel's offer for the fight, including such notables as Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Mikkel Kessler, Kelly Pavlik, Sakio Bika and, most recently, Andre Dirrell.
Finally, however, Chicago brawler Donovan George accepted the fight on Monday and will meet Quebec's Stevenson on Aug. 11 at the Bell Center in Montreal.
The bout will be on the undercard of the Showtime card headlined by light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud's defense against former champion Jean Pascal of Montreal.
"Don is very excited about this fight," said Leon Margules, who co-promotes George with Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions. "Don has always wanted this fight and waited a long time for things to develop. We believe Don has a very good chance to win this fight and challenge for his first world title. It will be a very exciting fight for the fans between two punchers."
All along, Margules felt like the contenders that the IBF ranked ahead of George would turn down the fight. He turned out to be right.
At various times during the process, Bika and Dirrell expressed interest only to drop out after discussing the bout with Michel. Dirrell, however, accepted the fight last week and, not wanting to waste time negotiating, asked the IBF to order an immediate purse bid. It was scheduled for Friday and it looked like Dirrell would take the fight until he backed out on Monday.
That left the IBF to order Stevenson-George and George happily accepted.
"I am very grateful for this opportunity to be on such a big stage and it's going to be such a great atmosphere at the Bell Centre," George said. "I'm excited to be on 'Showtime Championship Boxing' and be part of a great card. It doesn't matter to me that it's going to be in Montreal. Look at Carl Froch. He's had to go and travel to other people's backyard to fulfill his dream and that's what me and my team are prepared to do also."
In anticipation of being able to reach George in the rankings, Michel and Margules worked out a deal under which George would fight on the undercard for one price with the understanding that if Dirrell eventually declined the fight, he would move up the card to face Stevenson in the co-feature for more money.
The 27-year-old George (22-2-1, 19 KOs), who is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision loss to Rodriguez on March 17, said he has been studying Stevenson.
"This has been a tough fight to make as all the fighters in the IBF top 10 have passed up on this fight. I'm glad to take the challenge," George said. "I've seen a lot of tape on Adonis. He's a good fighter and he comes to fight. He's a big super middleweight. I know he's going to be in tiptop shape and I think it's going to be an excellent war. I'm going to train harder than I've ever trained before because this is for the IBF No. 1 and to be the mandatory for current champion Carl Froch."
Now trained by International Boxing Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward, Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs), 34, may have scared off other opponents with his recent run of sensational knockouts. He has knocked out his last five opponents, some in murderous fashion, since his lone defeat, an upset second-round knockout loss to Darnell Boone in April 2010.
"This is a very important fight and the biggest of my career as this will put me there for the world title," George said. "I know it's going to be a grueling fight and I know it's going to come down to conditioning and basically who can take the better punch. Adonis is a big puncher, but so am I, so I think it's gonna be a very explosive fight."