by David P. Greisman
Kathy Duva of Main Events wants a fight between power-punching light heavyweights Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev to be a done deal, but it’s not there quite yet.
"As far as we’re concerned, we’ve agreed to all the terms,” said Duva, who promotes Kovalev. “I believe they have. So now it’s up to him [Stevenson] to just follow through and sign the contract.”
Duva spoke with BoxingScene.com on Feb. 28.
BoxingScene.com: How much concern, if any, is there that things can change now that Stevenson has signed with Al Haymon?
Duva: “I’m not going to worry about things that I can’t control. If he does, and he decides not to do this fight for some reason, Sergey Kovalev’s going to have a great career. He’s going to have a great career with HBO, and that is without a doubt going to happen.”
BoxingScene.com: If the Stevenson fight doesn’t happen, where do you then go to build attention and demand for Kovalev?
Duva: “He’s going to get that on HBO. This fight with Cedric Agnew that’s happening on March 29 on HBO will be his first main event on HBO. His undercard fights have outscored most of the fights that have been on HBO last year in ratings — his undercard fight that he had in November.” [Note: Kovalev’s win over Ismayl Sillakh, on the undercard to Stevenson’s win over Tony Bellew, pulled in more than 1.25 million viewers, according to a report by Jake Donovan of BoxingScene.com.]
“In his first main event, I expect that we’re going to have a huge audience. Sergey Kovalev is must-see TV. You have to watch him. You have to be there. I don’t think since Mike Tyson there’s been a fighter that’s been so compelling, that’s been so ferocious, who can really live up to that moniker, ‘Baddest Man on the Planet.’ That’s what Sergey Kovalev is.”
BoxingScene.com: In a way, has the build-up of Gennady Golovkin been a blueprint for building up Kovalev?
Duva: “I think the activity is very important. But more than anything, it’s Sergey and his mentality. I read a post the other day online, and I’m going to steal it because it was fabulous. ‘Gennady Golovkin = Good Boy. Sergey Kovalev = Bad Boy.’ That’s what Sergey Kovalev is. People are going to follow that. They love him.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you’re waiting on the contract to be signed. How long are you willing to wait before moving on to the next fight, to the next option?
Duva: “Sergey has a fight scheduled for March 29 and as I keep emphasizing, I’ve seen too many people look past the guy in front of him because they were looking at somebody down the line, so we are going to do everything we can to focus Sergey’s attention on the fight that he has in front of him. By the time that fight happens, I have absolutely no doubt that HBO will have made it clear to the other side that they’re going to have to make up their minds.
“If they decide for some reason not to go through with they deal they’ve agreed to, then we will move on. But I am expecting they will [agree], because Adonis is out there saying that he’s going to beat Sergey up. I think it’s a wonderful thing. He should come and try.”
BoxingScene.com: Is there a drop dead date, then?
Duva: “You’ll have to ask HBO. That’s not my decision.”
BoxingScene.com: So you’d be willing to wait, as that’s the biggest fight you can make for Kovalev?
Duva: “He’s fighting on March 29. By March 30 I am going to know whether or not Adonis Stevenson is fighting Sergey Kovalev next. And if he’s not, we move on.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new 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 firstname.lastname@example.org