By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com spoke to Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, who chimed in on the escalating situation involving WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (23-1, 20KOs).
In an earlier interview conducted by BoxingScene's Bill "Two Scoops" Emes, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva , who promotes WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21KOs), unleashed some verbal fury in the direction of Stevenson and his new adviser Al Haymon.
For the better part of 2013, HBO was showcasing both Stevenson and Kovalev on their network - hoping to eventually match them up in 2014.
Earlier this year, it appeared that HBO, Duva and Stevenson's promoter Yvon Michel had reached a verbal agreement for a fall fight.
But then a few weeks ago, Stevenson was unexpectedly announced as the latest addition to Haymon's vast stable of fighters. At the time of this announcement, HBO was attempting to sign Stevenson to a multi-fight agreement - which involved a unification with Kovalev.
Kovalev returns on Saturday night against Cedric Agnew in Atlantic City.
Stevenson is back on May 24 against Andrzej Fonfara in Montreal. HBO appeared to be the network of choice for this match. But, Showtime jumped in the mix with a more lucrative offer to televise the fight. In the end, HBO refused to match Showtime's offer and now Stevenson-Fonfara is heading across the street.
It's no secret in the boxing industry that HBO broke their business ties with Haymon and Golden Boy early last year. It's no secret that most of Haymon's fighters are primarily showcased by Showtime. And it's also no secret that Stevenson wants to face IBF champion Bernard Hopkins, who faces WBA champion Beibut Shumenov in a Showtime unification bout on April 19th.
"About two months ago, we made a deal. We had a deal with Yvon Michel. We had a deal with HBO. We all got on the phone together in Atlantic City for a fight that we had on January 24th. I walked around that day very happy because we had a deal. I had really not been concerned that Adonis was going to fight or not, because I was told by his promoter that he was willing to do so," Duva told BoxingScene.com.
"I think that every time I saw Adonis Stevenson asked whether he wanted to fight Sergey Kovalev, he began to stutter. I think he had no desire to fight him. I think it's quite clear he had no desire to fight him. He went and made the one move that he could make [in preventing a Kovalev fight] by running to a rival network and with a manager who is known as an obstructionist. Yes he got his wish, he doesn't have to fight Sergey Kovalev right now. But I don't know if he can avoid him forever."
Schaefer, who doesn't have financial stake with either fighter, sees no issue with Stevenson and his promoter, Yvon Michel, going across the street because they were offered "more money." He says HBO could have easily matched the offer from Showtime, but forced Stevenson's hand when they passed on the opportunity to do so.
"I have no horse in this fight, but I followed with interest. I saw the recent interview that Kathy Duva gave, and to say that Hopkins, Shumenov or Stevenson are worried about fighting Kovalev, or scared of fighting Kovalev, is very disrespectful by her. You don't say things like that," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"I applaud Al and I applaud Yvon Michel for doing what's best for their fighter by maximizing his revenue. So my question is, why would Kathy Duva not be supportive of that? Why wouldn't she want Kovalev to go and fight where the most money is? That is the question that I would ask if I was Kovalev, or his manager. That's what I would ask if that was my promoter."
"Why does a Kovalev-Stevenson fight or a Kovalev-Hopkins or Shumenov fight have to be on HBO? Who benefits? Kathy Duva? Certainly not the fighter. You should be able to see where you can maximize the revenues. And if maximizing the revenues means that a certain fight should be on HBO, then it should be on HBO. And if it should be on Showtime, then it should be on Showtime."
"I can tell you that Bernard wants to make the most money, and if the most money is on Showtime then he's fighting on Showtime and if the most money is on HBO, then it's on HBO. That's really the bottom line. Showtime is working on a long-term goal of a fight, which would obviously be the winners of Hopkins-Shumenov and Stevenson-Fonfara. There is no secret that Bernard likes that fight and Stevenson likes that fight, but both of them have to win."
"And again, if I was Kovalev - I would ask my promoter 'why is it that I have to fight on HBO?' Is it where the most money is? If yes, then great you fight on HBO. But if it's not, then you have to ask yourself on why Kathy Duva is so hell-bent on having Kovalev fight on HBO. Do you think Stevenson went over to Showtime because he's making less money? It's nice for Kathy to stick up for HBO and I'm sure HBO likes that, but at the end of the day Kathy's fiduciary responsibilities are not to HBO, her fiduciary responsibilities are to Kovalev to maximize the revenues for him. Again, I have no horse in this race, that's just my honest assessment."