By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Kathy Duva doesn’t know who Sergey Kovalev will fight next, but she has an idea when he’ll return to the ring.
Duva, whose company promotes Kovalev, expects the former light heavyweight champion to fight sometime in November.
“That’s the plan,” said Duva, chief executive officer for Main Events. “The plan was for him to come back in November, win or lose [against Andre Ward]. There was never a question. He still has a contract with HBO.”
Now that he has lost twice to Ward, Duva was asked if it might make a bout between Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) a more realistic option. The Quebec-based Stevenson sent out a Tweet to express his interest in facing Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) after Ward stopped Kovalev in the eighth round Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Ward said before facing Kovalev in their IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight championship rematch that he’s not sure if the heavily criticized Stevenson is serious about boxing him. A fight against Stevenson would be Kovalev’s most profitable option after suffering back-to-back defeats to Ward.
“I couldn’t predict that,” Duva said. “I heard from Yvon Michel before the [Ward rematch]. He said, ‘We’re all rooting for Sergey. We want him to win.’ … But I don’t know. Apparently, they wanna try and fight [Kovalev].”
Duva and Michel, Stevenson’s promoter, tried to make the Kovalev-Stevenson bout early in 2014, but Stevenson signed an exclusive contract with Showtime and it was scrapped. Kovalev has an exclusive deal with HBO, Showtime’s premium-cable rival.
The WBC ordered a Stevenson-Kovalev fight later in 2014 because Kovalev was Stevenson’s mandatory challenger. Main Events withdrew from a scheduled purse bid, though, because losing the purse bid to a promoter representing Stevenson on behalf of manager Al Haymon would’ve meant the fight would not have aired on HBO.
Kovalev, 34, and Stevenson, 39, still have exclusive deals with HBO and Showtime, respectively.
HBO might be more open, however, to Kovalev fighting on another network now that he has lost twice to Ward. Kovalev doesn’t have many attractive alternatives to Stevenson and it seems unlikely, based on HBO’s budget constraints, that HBO would be able to air Kovalev-Stevenson live on the network, even if Haymon could deliver Stevenson.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.