By Jake Donovan
They’ve yet to get Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev in the ring together, but a little bad blood between companies doesn’t mean all business matters have to come to a halt.
GYM Promotions and Main Events remain joined at the hip in other light heavyweight matters, representing each side of two separate ordered title eliminators.
The latest added to the queue is an intriguing crossroads bout that was ordered on Wednesday afternoon by the World Boxing Council (WBC). Unbeaten Eleider Alvarez (18-0, 10KOs) and Isaac Chilemba (24-2-2, 10KOs) have formally accepted an offer to enter negotiations for a final eliminator for the right to face Stevenson in a future mandatory title defense.
“I'm very happy that (Alvarez) accepted that challenge,” Chilemba said in a statement through Main Events’ press office. “I'm not taking Alvarez lightly, he is a good fighter all round. I know he wants to be a champion himself, unfortunately not this time as this is my time.
“By the time we meet, I'll be 100% ready and, even though my mind is fully focused on the present opportunity, it brings me closer to that WBC championship I have been working so hard to get to. Just that is what will drive me into leaving nothing to chance when I face Alvarez. I really appreciate the great work of my team getting me where I am today.”
The two sides have until September 24 to agree to terms, after which point a purse bid hearing will be held on September 25, likely at the WBC headquarters in Mexico City.
In accepting the offer for this fight, Chilemba passed on an opportunity to face Artur Beterbiev—who, like Alvarez is an unbeaten light heavyweight promoted by Yvon Michel’s GYM Promotions. Such a fight would have determined a future mandatory challenger for Kovalev, but as Chilemba was in the position to pick and choose which light heavyweight champ he wants to face, his team angled for a clash with Alvarez.
Of course it takes two to tango, and there was concern of either fight coming off given the history between the two companies. But as both sides have publicly promised to act in good faith on behalf of their fighters, Michel accepted the offer for Alvarez.
“I want to thank Alvarez and his team for accepting the fight,” stated Jodi Solomon, Chilemba’s manager. “Isaac has wanted this opportunity for the longest time and I believe with Buddy [McGirt] in his corner, nothing will be left to chance. Thank you also to Main Events for helping to get Isaac this opportunity.”
The news comes on the heels of Beterbiev (9-0, 9KOs) and Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11KOs) agreeing to enter a 30-day negotiation period for their ordered International Boxing Federation (IBF) eliminator.
Stevenson, Beterbiev and Alvarez are promoted by Michel and advised by Al Haymon. Kovalev, Barrera and Chilemba are promoted by Main Events.
Two down, one to go? Time will tell, but there at least exists signs of a brighter future between the two companies, which can only mean bigger and better business for the light heavyweight division.
We've been focused on the light heavyweight division for the past few years,” notes Main Events CEO Kathy Duva. “I'm delighted that so many of our efforts are paying off at the same time and that Isaac and Sullivan are finally getting the opportunities that they've earned and have been waiting for.
“Yvon and I have a lot to talk about! I've reached out for him and expect that we'll begin negotiations over the weekend.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com