By Jake Donovan
For a fight where none of the parties involved seem to know what the hell is going on, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) seems awfully confident of Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight title defense versus Anthony Yarde eventually seeing the light of day.
For the third time this spring, the sanctioning body has formally postponed a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights for the slow-moving light heavyweight title fight. Such a session was due to take place Tuesday morning in Jamaica (Queens), New York, but was postponed—this time at the request of Yarde’s promoter, Frank Warren.
“I hereby acknowledge receipt of your email communication dated June 8th 2019, whereby on behalf of Main Events Promotions you indicate no objection to the purse bid postponement request submitted by Mr. Heath on behalf of Queensberry Promotions,” Luis Batista, chairman of WBO Championship Committee stated in an open letter to Main Events’ attorney Patrick English. “In consideration thereof, this Committee hereby grants a fourteen-day (14) extension in order for the parties to reach an agreement.”
A new purse bid date of June 24 has been assigned, with the session due to take place at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28KOs) is due to make the first defense of his third title reign as a light heavyweight titlist. The Russian slugger reclaimed the title this past February in a 12-round win over Eleider Alvarez, whom stopped Kovalev in eight rounds last August.
England’s Yarde (18-0, 17KOs) stepped into the title picture following a 5th round knockout of Travis Reeves this past March in Kensington, England. Shortly thereafter, the WBO ordered a purse bid hearing which was due to take place April 15 at its headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Main Events initially called for an immediate purse bid and for it take place one week prior on April 8. It was only the beginning of a bizarre stretch which has lasted more than two months, with that request followed by another for the hearing to be pushed back to its original April 15 date, which the WBO obliged.
That session was called off after Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events informed the sanctioning body that a deal had been reached. The fight was due to take place June 29 in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia, to air live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and stream live on ESPN+ in the United States.
As April became May and then quickly transitioned into June, it became overwhelmingly apparent that the June 29 date wouldn’t hold up. Yarde’s side took to the media, with Warren wondering aloud why it was taking so long for details to be sorted out.
If he hasn’t yet been given his answer, it will come this week.
The veteran promoter from England is in Las Vegas for his star heavyweight Tyson Fury, whom headlines versus Germany’s Tom Schwarz this Saturday atop an ESPN+ livestream. BoxingScene,com has learned that Duva is expected to meet with Warren in Vegas, with the hopes that all parties will be given the information—and assurance—necessary to move forward confident that there will in fact be a light heavyweight title fight in their future.
Indications suggest the fight will still take place in Russia, where Kovalev remains in training camp. As to when it will take place, not even a general time frame has been suggested, as there remains undisclosed issues with the local investors who are funding the pricy event.
Should the matter still remain unresolved by June 24, the matter will be subject to a WBO purse bid. All promoters actively registered with the sanctioning body will be permitted to participate, provided they submit a minimum accepted bid of $300,000 along with a date and location for where the event will be staged.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox