By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com has been advised that the International Boxing Federation will issue an order on December 26th, which directs their super middleweight champion Carl Froch (29-2, 21KOs) to begin negotiations for a mandatory defense against Adonis Stevenson (19-1, 16KOs).
Froch's promoter, Eddie Hearn, will either begin negotiations or request an exception to go forward with a planned March/April rematch with Lucian Bute. If the exception is granted, then the IBF will order the winner to face Stevenson or vacate the title. But, there is a section in the IBF’s rules where a mandatory defense holds weight over a rematch.
Yvon Michel, who promotes Stevenson, does not believe Froch has any intention of facing Stevenson - and his belief was further fueled by a recent article on BoxingScene, where the Nottingham star discussed his intention to fight Bute in early 2013, and then pursue a rematch with either Mikkel Kessler or Andre Ward.
Michel tells BoxingScene that Froch has until February 25th to make the defense.
"Adonis Stevenson is the mandatory challenger to Carl Froch. Carl Froch will make a voluntary defense on November 17th against Yusaf Mack. We got an email from the IBF, that on December 26th Carl Froch will receive a letter saying that we are now in the free negotiations period. And if we don't come to that agreement then there will be a purse bid," Michel told BoxingScene.com.
“When a champion is winning a world title [under the IBF], he has nine months to fight the mandatory contender. So the nine months started on May 25th and the mandatory, according to the rules, has to be done by February 25th. We know that Carl Froch signed an agreement, it was in his contract with Bute…they had a rematch [clause]. According to the IBF rules, a mandatory [defense] prevails over any rematch. Froch will have to fight Adonis Stevenson before Lucian Bute .If not, then he will have to vacate the title."
Michel and Stevenson might be willing to consider the option of stepping aside - if there is a contract agreement for the Froch-Bute winner to fight Stevenson next. But, Michel does not believe that either Froch or Bute would be willing to contractually bind themselves to fight Stevenson.
“On BoxingScene, Froch was talking about his future. He was talking about Yusaf Mack and then he has a rematch with Lucian Bute and then he wanted to fight Kessler after or to fight Andre Ward, or maybe one and then the other - so it's clear that Adonis Stevenson does not fit in his calendar. We don't believe Lucian Bute [will do it either]. He fought everyone from all over the world, but there was a legitimate contender in his own backyard. He preferred to fight anyone but Adonis when he was champion. If he beats Froch, we don't have any indication whatsoever that he would be willing to give Adonis the chance,” Michel said.