By Keith Idec
Eleider Alvarez has taken a stand.
According to Stephane Lepine, Alvarez’s manager, the planned Adonis Stevenson-Badou Jack fight will take place May 19 only if Alvarez, the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title, is properly compensated to step aside and allow it. Lepine told rds.ca, a Canadian sports website, that negotiations are ongoing and that he hopes that an agreement is reached as soon as possible.
“I do not want to talk about negotiations while they are still taking place,” Lepine told rds.ca. “It is not done. I would only hurt Eleider and the project. What I can tell you is that I know where I’m going with Eleider, that it’s been very well-protected and that, one way or another, we’re going to be the winner [in this situation].”
Yvon Michel, whose company promotes Stevenson and Alvarez, acknowledged to rds.ca that an agreement with Alvarez must be reached before he can begin promoting Stevenson-Jack. Tickets have not gone on sale for that May 19 card at Bell Centre in Montreal, which tentatively is scheduled for five weeks from Saturday night.
“I cannot really talk about it because I do not want to publicize the problems we have to solve,” Michel said. “What I can tell you is that we are working very hard to fix that. We are very confident to put an end to all this and launch the promotion quickly.”
Showtime has committed to televising an intriguing bout between Quebec’s Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) and Sweden’s Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs), but Lepine seeks a binding assurance that the winner would defend the WBC 175-pound championship against Alvarez in his following fight. The Colombian-born, Quebec-based Alvarez has been Stevenson’s mandatory challenger since defeating South Africa’s Isaac Chilemba in November 2015, yet he has fought four times since then.
Alvarez reportedly has been paid step-aside fees for allowing Stevenson to make optional defenses of his title since Alvarez became his mandatory challenger. Stevenson has fought just twice during that time – when the powerful southpaw scored a fourth-round knockout of American Thomas Williams Jr. in July 2016 and when he stopped Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara in the second round of what was widely viewed as an unnecessary rematch 10 months ago.
The 34-year-old Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) hasn’t fought since defeating Quebec’s Jean Pascal by majority decision in their 12-rounder on the Stevenson-Fonfara undercard June 3 at Bell Centre.
“He is the mandatory challenger,” Lepine said of Alvarez. “The fight May 19 [between Stevenson and Jack] will take place only if we are satisfied with our negotiations. It’s always been that and I organized myself to keep it that way.”
Lepine revealed that he wants $1 million, presumably in combined compensation, for Alvarez’s next two fights, in addition to an assurance that Alvarez will face the Stevenson-Jack winner next. If they come to an agreement, Alvarez is expected to fight on the Stevenson-Jack undercard May 19.
Alvarez is ranked No. 1 among the WBC’s light heavyweight contenders. Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs) is ranked No. 2 by the WBC, won its interim light heavyweight title March 17 in New York and told BoxingScene.com last month that he expects to face the Stevenson-Jack winner next.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.