By Keith Idec
After reading Adonis Stevenson’s statements regarding a potential showdown with Sergey Kovalev, the Russian knockout artist’s promoter dismissed Stevenson’s comments as inaccurate.
Even if both boxers win during HBO’s doubleheader Saturday night, Stevenson said he wouldn’t fight Kovalev in a light heavyweight championship unification fight unless Kovalev defeated former champions comparable to Chad Dawson and Tavoris Cloud, the two ex-light heavyweight title-holders Stevenson stopped earlier this year. Main Events chief executive officer Kathy Duva questioned Stevenson’s reasoning for putting off a fight HBO Sports executives obviously would love to televise if Stevenson (22-1, 19 KOs) defeats England’s Tony Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KOs) and Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 KOs) overcomes Ukraine’s Ismayll Sillakh (21-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday night at Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada (HBO; 10:15 ET/PT).
“Stevenson seems to be looking for excuses to avoid fighting Kovalev,” said Duva, whose company promotes Kovalev. “The truth is, their opposition has been pretty equal thus far. Both dethroned the sitting champion, [Tavoris] Cloud and [Gabriel] Campillo were both former champions who fought to a disputed decision, so they are pretty equal.
“By the way, Stevenson got KOd by [Darnell] Boone — a guy Sergey beat twice. So Stevenson’s argument that Kovalev must fight former champions doesn’t hold a lot of water. I believe that they have fought an equal number of former champions.”
Canada’s Stevenson knocked out Boone in the sixth round of their rematch March 22 in Montreal to avenge his lone professional loss, a second-round technical knockout defeat to Boone (19-21-3, 8 KOs) in April 2010 in Salisbury, Md. After beating Boone, Stevenson stopped Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs, 2 NC) in the first round of a star-making performance June 8 in Montreal to win the WBC light heavyweight title. Stevenson, 36, made an impressive defense of his WBC title by dominating Cloud (24-2, 19 KOs) for seven rounds Sept. 28 in Montreal.
Kovalev, 30, tore through Wales’ Nathan Cleverly (26-2, 12 KOs) and won the WBO light heavyweight championship by fourth-round TKO Aug. 17 in Cardiff, Wales. His victory over Cleverly marked Kovalev’s sixth straight knockout.
Kovalev previously scored quick TKO victories over Boone and Campillo (22-6-1, 9 KOs), who lost a split decision to Cloud in the bout before Kovalev knocked him out. He also boxed Boone twice. Their first fight resulted in an eight-round split-decision win for Kovalev three years ago in Atlanta, but Kovalev answered any lingering questions regarding that bout by blowing out Boone in the second round of their rematch.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.