by Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has advised BoxingScene.com that IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32KOs) is ready to face his WBC counterpart, Adonis Stevenson (23-1, 20KOs), in a high-stakes unification.
Following his recent TKO victory over Tony Bellew, Stevenson called for a fight with Hopkins. The fight would be a big seller in Canada. In his last five fights, Hopkins traveled over to Canada on two occasions to face another Canadian star, Jean Pascal - and snatched the WBC title from Pascal before a sold out Bell Centre in Montreal.
Schaefer has a good relationship with Stevenson's promoter, Yvon Michel, and doesn't expect any issues with reaching an agreement. Michel has already spoke to Schaefer about the fight.
The only problem in getting the fight together, says Schaefer, is the network standoff. Earlier this year, HBO cut their business ties with Golden Boy. Since that time period, Hopkins and other Golden Boy fighters have fought exclusively on rival network Showtime.
Schaefer indicates that he tried to present Hopkins-Stevenson to HBO in the past, and the network rejected the fight.
Most insiders believe Hopkins has a good shot, stylistically, to beat Stevenson. Because of that, does HBO take the risk of matching a boxer they are trying to build against a fighter who could win and then easily bounce back to Showtime.
Hopkins recently drew a rating of 1 million on Showtime, against Karo Murat - who was unknown to nearly the entire American audience - so there is no question that people would watch a fight with Stevenson.
Making the fight actually happen has come down to network politics and Schaefer says the politics became clear to him when HBO broadcaster Max Kellerman was taking several shots at Hopkins during HBO's recent doubleheader that featured Stevenson in the main event.
HBO would rather match Stevenson against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev, who fights on their network, but Stevenson does not appear to be on board with facing the dangerous puncher, at least in his next fight.
"Yvon has called me. I have a friendly relationship with Yvon and always have. We have fun working together and the results speak for themselves. Bernard is in a very good position, even though Max Kellerman was very disrespectful in his post-fight comments about Bernard and frankly about Stevenson too. I think Bernard, without any question, whether people love him or not, should be respected for what he has done and where he stands. One has to be a moron if he wants to argue who is the biggest name in the light heavyweight division, it is clearly Bernard Hopkins," Schaefer said.
"He keeps turning back the clock and beating up these young guys. And in these last few fights nobody can say that he's not exciting. He is clearly the one who brings the most to the table. Are Kovalev and Stevenson the bigger punchers? Yes, they are. But that doesn't mean that because they are bigger punchers, that you disrespect one of the most accomplished fighters in the history of the sport. Kellerman says 'Hopkins is still hanging around' and that's not how you respect a legendary champion. And quite frankly, Hopkins will beat all of them [at light heavyweight]. The guy is an alien. He is an alien!"