By Jake Donovan
Strong rumors have begun to swirl that Donovan George will wind up replacing Andre Dirrell to face Adonis Stevenson next month in a super middleweight elimination bout.
Attempts to land an opponent for Stevenson (18-1-1, 15KO) for the Showtime-televise co-feature bout on August 11 at the Bell Centre in Montreal have been grueling to say the least. Several prominent contenders have fallen through, all opting to move in a different direction – or at least as far away as possible from Stevenson.
Dirrell (20-1, 14KO) recently entered the picture, offering the insistence that he accepted the fight and is willing to travel to Canada. The announcement was met with skepticism, considering the odd behavior expressed by the American contender earlier in the year.
The Super Six dropout had a chance to face then-unbeaten titlist Lucian Bute on Showtime. Rather than accept the terms offered, Dirrell made a series of bizarre business decisions, separating from promoter Gary Shaw and advisor Al Haymon. The belief was that he could negotiate fights on his own, but the fact that he hasn’t fought since last December proved the opposite to be true.
Despite Dirrell's insistence of being on board for this particular bout, the proof is in the signed contract, which has yet to happen. GYM Promotions – who represents Stevenson – is obviously looking to avoid being strung along, as evidenced by their request for an expedited purse bid.
The IBF obliged, with a purse bid hearing scheduled for Friday, July 13.
GYM took out an additional insurance policy, reserving an undercard slot for George (22-2-1, 18KO), one of the few super middleweights on the planet who has expressed sincere interest in facing Stevenson. No opponent has yet been secured for George, as his place on the card is really more of stand-by capacity.
Should the Stevenson-Dirrell matchup actually make it to a purse bid and Dirrell agrees to terms, an opponent will then be sought for George. Otherwise, the Chicago native will land the main event fight and a shot at redemption. He enters this fight on the heels of a hard-fought loss to Edwin Rodriguez earlier this year in his first-ever fight on HBO.
This particular bout – should George land the assignment - would mark his debut on Showtime and also his first fight in Canada. The main event features unbeaten light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud against house favorite and former lineal light heavyweight king Jean Pascal.
Whether it’s Dirrell or George who lands the assignment against Stevenson, the winner will become mandatory to current super middleweight titlist Carl Froch. Even that comes with a catch – Froch has an optional defense in November, followed by a rematch with Lucian Bute next March in Canada.
Stevenson has won five straight – all by knockout – and is currently training in Kronk Gym under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward. The 34-year old made a splash in his most recent bout, becoming the first to stop Noe Gonzalez as he halted him inside of two rounds on ESPN2 this past April.
The series of wins have helped advance Stevenson to the #2 slot in the current IBF rankings. Filling the mandatory void has proven to be troublesome, with nearly everyone from #3 to #10 – including the likes of Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Kelly Pavlik and Sakio Bika – have all turned down the chance to face the hard-hitting southpaw.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox