By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Yvon Michel is confident his company will promote three of boxing’s light heavyweight champions come August 4.
The Quebec-based promoter expects Adonis Stevenson to beat Badou Jack and retain his WBC 175-pound championship Saturday night in Toronto. Michel also predicted contender Eleider Alvarez will upset Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO 175-pound crown August 4 in Atlantic City.
Before either of those two fights take place, however, Michel told BoxingScene.com that he is certain a superior court judge in Montreal will rule in his favor this week in his contract dispute with IBF light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev. Proceedings began on Monday in Montreal.
Russia’s Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) announced through his Instagram account just over a year ago that he had terminated his promotional partnership with Michel, with whom Beterbiev had worked since relocating to Montreal and turning pro in June 2013. Reportedly, Beterbiev believes he wasn’t paid the minimum purses that his contract called for him to earn, nor was he offered the minimum number of fights per that deal.
Michel completely disagrees.
“We really believe the judge will grant us justice and confirm our contract is valid with him,” Michel said. “So we will have three of the four champions in or around our city.”
Prominent promoters throughout the boxing industry will pay close attention to the Montreal judge’s ruling this week, just in case Beterbiev is declared a free agent. The hard-hitting Beterbiev is one of boxing’s most punishing punchers and is in position to land a high-profile title unification fight within the stacked light heavyweight division.
The 33-year-old Beterbiev knocked out Germany’s Enrico Koelling (25-2, 8 KOs) in the 12th round six months ago to win the IBF 175-pound championship Andre Ward relinquished when he retired last September. The November 11 card on which Beterbiev beat Koelling was promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. because Top Rank won the purse bid for the right to promote that IBF-mandated match.
Michel is convinced his company, Group Yvon Michel, will promote Beterbiev’s first title defense.
“We haven’t done anything that deserves to have this contract invalidated,” Michel said. “He was paid a lot of money. We gave him the opportunities. Look, if would not have been injured, he would’ve fought Kovalev, probably, in his third year in boxing. He became a world champion [after] his 11th fight. We have done a great, great job with him, and it’s really pitiful that he doesn’t realize that.”
The injury to which Michel referred was a shoulder injury that prohibited Beterbiev from fighting for nearly a year – from June 12, 2015, until June 4, 2016.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.