By Rick Reeno
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, is ready, willing and able to begin negotiations for a light heavyweight unification between her fighter, WBO champion Sergey Kovalev, and IBF/WBA champion Bernard Hopkins - who earlier today told BoxingScene.com that he's very interested in facing Duva's feared fighter.
Kovalev (24-0-1, 22KOs) must first take care of business on August 2nd in Atlantic City, when he faces undefeated Blake Caparello (19-0-1, 6KOs) as part of an HBO televised tripleheader.
It was widely believed that Hopkins would be facing WBC champion Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20KOs) in the fall. But Hopkins confirmed to BoxingScene that there have been no serious discussions regarding a Stevenson fight in 2014.
For most of 2013, HBO was building up a unification fight between Kovalev and Stevenson. A few months ago, Stevenson jumped ship to rival network Showtime, with the obvious goal of facing Hopkins. Kathy Duva of Main Events, who felt confident that she reached an agreement with promoter Yvon Michel for Stevenson-Kovalev unification on HBO, filed a federal lawsuit against Michel, Stevenson, Showtime, Al Haymon and former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
Some insiders believe the legal situation surrounding Stevenson could potentially push back a Hopkins unification until 2015. And given that Hopkins is 49-years-old, it's no surprise that he's open to explore every lucrative possibility. HBO would certainly welcome the fight, because Kovalev's options at 175-pounds are running a little dry.
Another big reason for Hopkins' increased interest in Kovalev is the pending mandatory obligation to Nadjib Mohammedi (35-3, 21KOs), who last month knocked out Anatoliy Dudchenko in a final IBF eliminator.
If Hopkins is unable to secure Kovalev or Stevenson in a timely fashion, he would be forced to close out the year with a mandatory fight against Mohammedi, which none of the major networks will be running to buy.
"My thing is this, I have to look out for my position, and my team is looking out for what my situation is - and Kovalev might be a more viable quicker [fight to make], from what I'm understand, than Stevenson is. The perception is, is that Kovalev is a killer and Stevenson doesn't want to fight him, he wants to fight an old man. If that's the case, I'll knock off Kovalev first, because I believe that I can beat him. I believe that he's a tough fight, but I believe that I can beat him. It's a fight where if I make a mistake I can get knocked out. And yeah Bernard Hopkins can get knocked out too, and so can Kovalev and so can Stevenson, who's been knocked out once in his career," Hopkins told BoxingScene.com.
Because of Hopkins' mandatory obligation to the IBF, the two sides have no time to spare, as Duva pointed out.
Of course, Sergey's primary focus is his upcoming August 2nd light heavyweight title defense at Revel in Atlantic City against undefeated Blake "Il Capo" Caparello," Duva stated to BoxingScene.com. "Assuming that Sergey is successful on August 2nd, HBO and Main Events are already planning to bring him back sometime during the fourth quarter--possibly as early as October."
"Sergey has frequently expressed his desire to test his skills against the best and acquire all of the light heavyweight world titles. So if Bernard Hopkins wants the fight, Sergey and Main Events would be happy to oblige."
"Of course, Bernard is now in the mandatory position with the IBF. My understanding is that if he does not put a plan in place for a title unification very shortly, he will be obliged to fight Nadjib Mohammedi next or risk losing his IBF title."
"So, obviously, time is of the essence. I would like to know which promoter represents Bernard so I could speak with him about this. We are already involved in one lawsuit and I would not want to risk getting involved in another by going around Bernard's representatives."