by David P. Greisman
There’s much still to be shaken out when it comes to what the top light heavyweights will be doing with the rest of 2014.
First off, Sergey Kovalev is fighting what is considered a keep-busy bout this Saturday on HBO when he defends his world title against Blake Caparello.
“It’s keep busy, keep your title, keep earning money. That’s what he wants to do. He wants to be an active champion, defend it a lot,” said Kathy Duva of promoter Main Events. “He’s going to fight again this year. He gets three shots on HBO this year. That’s tremendous. We don’t know what’s going to come at the end of the year, but if he’s more active, that puts him in a better position to win a fight.”
Kovalev was originally expecting to face Adonis Stevenson later this year after each man won a tune-up bout. Kovalev beat Cedric Agnew on HBO, but Stevenson’s bout with Andrzej Fonfara wound up on Showtime instead. Suddenly there was doubt whether Kovalev-Stevenson would still come off — or if Stevenson would opt to face Bernard Hopkins.
Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, has sued Stevenson and several others. The case is still in its early stages. Meanwhile, Stevenson-Hopkins has yet to be announced.
Hopkins has recently said he’s open to facing Kovalev next instead of Stevenson. Some have wondered whether Hopkins meant this, or whether he was trying to put Kovalev’s name out there to apply pressure on Stevenson for that fight to get signed.
“I think he was [using Kovalev’s name] and I also think he might’ve been sincere,” Duva said. “I would expect his first choice would be to fight Stevenson because that’s just rational. And if he got that, that would be great for him. But if he didn’t get that, then Sergey’s an alternate choice, which pleases me, certainly.
“First of all, you’re Bernard Hopkins, you’re not going to be afraid of anybody. I’m not going to think for a moment that there’s anybody he wouldn’t fight. But I think logically Stevenson is the least dangerous of the two. They’re both huge punchers, but I think Stevenson is maybe more susceptible to Bernard’s head games. You’ve got a big puncher who’s in some respects one-dimensional, as opposed to a big puncher who has many dimensions and who remains to be seen whether he’ll be susceptible to the head games. I think if I’m Bernard, I go for the more likely one first, and I think it’s Stevenson.”
Duva said it was frustrating when she was on the brink of having a big match made for Kovalev before. Things may be moving in a better direction, though.
“We’ve been having conversations in the last few days with [Jean] Pascal’s people, who seem to be coming around. And I’m hearing that I’m about to have conversations with Golden Boy about Hopkins. Until it happens, I will reserve judgment. But I’m hearing all kinds of rumors that we have a deal. It’d be great to know.”
Another reporter asked if Hopkins was her preferred choice. “Of course,” she said.
“When I say preferred choice, I’m dealing with what’s possible,” Duva added. “Stevenson’s simply not possible. He took himself out of the game. At some point you’ve just got to move on and say, ‘You know what, you made your choices. Live with them.’
“Hopkins, Stevenson, either one. It’s that high-profile fight where everybody’s watching. That’s what makes your career. Either one is just as good as the other. Stevenson took himself off that list. If he wants to put himself back on, God bless him. As things stand right now, it looks like his career’s going in a different direction.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]