By Rick Reeno
Yvon Michel of GYM, promoter of WBC light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20KOs), reached out to BoxingScene.com, to respond to a recent article pertaining to a potential fight with the number one contender, former champion Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 17KOs).
Greg Leon, CEO of Jean Pascal Promotions, believes Stevenson's next fight should come against Pascal. Stevenson is looking to return on September 27th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, and names like Gabriel Campillo and Umberto Savigne are being kicked around as possible opponents.
A date of October 18th was previously reserved, by Showtime, for a unification between Stevenson and IBF/WBA champion Bernard Hopkins. Unexpectedly for Stevenson, Hopkins finalized an agreement last Friday to face WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in an HBO televised unification on November 8th.
"Hopkins and Stevenson was on hold by Showtime for October 18th. Hopkins is out from October 18th because he's fighting Kovalev. Hopkins is out from October 18th, we want in. We're ready for October 18th. Is he going to run away from Jean Pascal like he ran away from Kovalev?," Leon told BoxingScene.com.
"They are trying to fight a schmuck on September 27th. They are talking to Campillo and Umberto Savigne, from what I hear. Rick, you're a smart guy. If they had October 18th on hold, and Adonis would have been ready to fight Hopkins on October 18th or November - why can't Adonis fight Jean Pascal on October 18th? He would be making his mandatory [defense] in the process and we would break the [revenue] record that we set with [Lucian] Bute [in January]."
Michel says the date of October 18th was not on hold for a venue in Canada. He has two dates locked in with the Bell Centre, September 27th and December 6th. The September date would be too soon for a fight with Pascal.
"When the fight fell out with Hopkins, when Hopkins chose to fight Sergey Kovalev, right away Greg Leon, without talking to me, started calling every reporter, one after one, saying to them that we had the date to fight October 18th. To fight on October 18th where? To fight in New York? Pascal and Stevenson to fight in New York? I have the Bell Centre available for two dates, September 27th and December 6th. We have those dates and that fight doesn't belong in the states," Michel told BoxingScene.com.
"And this is childish when you start saying the fighter is afraid of this fighter. This is bullsh*t and childish. This the game they are starting to play. There is a process when you are a mandatory contender. We don't have to sit together. We don't have to negotiate anything. We can go to a purse bid and that's it. Jean Pascal keeps saying out here that he fights for honor, he doesn't fight for the money, he fights for the fans, so he has the privilege of being in the number one position and if he's not happy with what [ the deal is], he just needs to vacate the number one position and we'll fight someone else. Or they can beat us in the purse bid and do the promotion themselves."
However, Leon and Pascal are in no way taking anything less than a 50-50 deal across the board. Recent reports in Canada suggest that a split of 70-30, in favor of Stevenson, would be required to make the fight with Pascal.
"Anything less than 50-50 would be an insult to Jean Pascal. Yvon Michel said it best after our [co-promotional] deal fell apart. Pascal was going to get a million dollars to fight Tavoris Cloud - after Adonis Stevens knocked him out and without a belt. When Adonis Stevenson had a belt and fought Tavoris Cloud he made $650,000. So Yvon Michel did a better job at telling the press that Jean Pascal is worth more than Adonis Stevenson than I can," Leon said.
"Right now it's crystal clear that we want Stevenson and Yvon Michel talking about 70-30 in the press is ridiculous. Yvon Michel should know better, because when Jean Pascal was the champion he gave Bernard Hopkins 50-50 on everything, so why would you think that anything less would be acceptable to Jean Pascal when he brings more value to that market than the champion does? We can make the deal in 5 minutes....50-50 on everything...done deal, simple."
Michel denies making any demands of a 70-30 - other than stating the split of a Stevenson-Pascal bout - if it heads to a purse bid - would be 70-30 in favor of the champion. Although the WBC could modify the split to make more level.
While he praises Pascal as a fighter, he claims the boxer is very difficult to deal with when it comes to negotiating a deal. After Pascal's contract expired with Michel earlier this year, the boxer eventually signed a co-promotional with Michel and Jean Bedard of InterBox. A few weeks later, Michel and Bedard made a united decision to break away from Pascal, because of the difficulties in making a September fight with Tavoris Cloud.
"Can you imagine he was getting a million dollars to fight Tavoris Cloud in September and it was not enough. It was so complicated all the time," Michel said.
"We have not made any demands. Jean is always the first one to be shouting for opponents and the last one to sign a contract. He forced us on a rematch with Bernard Hopkins to go to purse bid, because it was so difficult to make a deal with him. Against Lucian Bute, for five years he was yelling that he wanted to fight Lucian Bute. Finally Bute signed his contract and Jean signed his the day before the press conference. It's always been like that."
"We had a good offer, that he agreed upon, to fight Tavoris Cloud in September. Cloud had signed, Don King had signed, everything was okay. He kept pushing [back] the signing of his agreement, so we had to keep pushing [back] the press conference, pushing [back] the press conference again, and then again and again. Finally with my partner, Jean Bedard of InterBox, we got fed up with his continuous demands and we pulled the plug."
"I've been with Jean Pascal for ten years and to make sure that I was not the one who was biased and had a problem to close the deal, I let Jean Bedard and his people do the negotiations with them. And it fell apart. I was not in the front of that negotiations. I was just reading the emails and it was difficult. And at one point Jean Bedard called me and said 'I've had enough, it's too complicated.' It's a negotiations and you have the right to ask for whatever you think you deserve, but we also have a right to place a line on what we don't want to go over."
"Jean Pascal vs. Adonis Stevenson could be fun, it could very, very good, but I do not think that it will surpass the fight with Pascal and Bute in terms of tickets sales and popularity here, because Bute was very, very popular - but it think it could be very, very good."
Michel did make it clear that a 50-50 deal would not be entertained.
"It's not realistic, not at all. Adonis, his manager Al Haymon, myself - we will never agree to that," Michel said. "They are shouting loud that they want to fight Stevenson. That they want 50-50, I didn't propose anything. I just said you are the mandatory contender and Adonis really respects that."
Regarding Michel's position, Leon stated:
"If Adonis Stevenson wants to sell more than 5,000 tickets, then he needs to fight Jean Pascal. To become a box office attraction you need to beat a box office attraction," Leon said.
And Michel gave his take on that.
"If they are so high on Jean Pascal [as a draw], he is a good fighter and he has the potential to be champion again, they just need to promote him. They have to do fights with him, find opponents, do what we're doing by selling tickets and finding sponsors," Michel said.
BoxingScene spoke to international agent Don Majeski, who brokered the first Hopkins-Pascal bout in 2010. He gave the background behind Hopkins receiving a 50-50 deal to face Pascal in Canada.
"The proposition was made. We spoke to [former Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer to see if he was interested and he was. And then came in with Showtime. Richard delivered Showtime. It was mega-fight. Bernard was a mega-name. It was done because Hopkins was a big attraction and Richard Schaefer delivered Showtime. He basically paid Hopkins purse. He was a good attraction. Of course he meant something. That kind of a name, it's like bringing Oscar De La Hoya up to Canada or bringing Floyd Mayweather up to Canada. They mean something [just on their name value alone]," Majeski said.