By Jake Donovan
Vyachaslev Senchenko’s hopes of fighting stateside will have to be put on hold for at least one more fight.
The undefeated welterweight, who represented his native Ukraine in the 2000 Summer Olympics, was in negotiations to face Saul Alvarez in a bout that would have served as the headliner for a March 5 HBO Boxing After Dark telecast.
Such plans fell through late last week, however, when the two sides couldn’t agree to terms.
Alvarez’ handlers didn’t waste any time in searching for a new opponent, and for good reason. They are now less than eight weeks away from a fight they plan to be the biggest test to date to begin a year that they hope will include fighting for – and winning – a major title.
However, that Alvarez’ handlers also didn’t waste time in pushing their version of the story, is of greater concern to the Senchenko side.
“We couldn’t come to terms in the contract conclusion (negotiation period) for the Senchenko-Alvarez fight,” stated Dmytry Eleseev, General Manager for Union Boxing Promotions, Senchenko’s promoter in his native Ukraine.
Negotiations began towards the end of 2010, shortly after Alvarez’ 12-round points win over Lovemore N’Dou in his first-ever HBO-televised main event (the bout aired on HBO Latino). It was revealed that Alvarez would return to the ring on March 5, a date reserved by the American cable giant despite the fact that no opponent had been secured.
The two names most frequently mentioned were Senchenko and Matthew Hatton, Ricky’s younger brother and a current welterweight contender. That list has now been cut in half, as Hatton has officially emerged as the frontrunner to secure the assignment, which is expected to land at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Senchenko dropped out of the running once it became clear that the two sides wouldn’t agree to terms early enough to give their fighter the necessary time available for a full training camp to adapt to the climate change between his native Ukraine and life on the left coast.
“The American side has tightened time of negotiations,” Eleseev points out, referring to the need to finalize contracts in time to keep the TV date. “Thus, we ended negotiations once we knew we couldn’t stay on our eight-week preparation schedule, which includes sparring and the adaptable period in America.”
Eleseev knew the negotiations hit a detour once the issue of money came up.
“The sum of the offered fee was less sums (that were) originally stipulated. The sum offered by Golden Boy was expected by them to cover training camp in Los Angeles and other expenses connected with it. Certainly we couldn't agree on such conditions.
“By the way the sum of $550,000 to which speak many publications speak, wasn't at all specified during negotiations; these are reporters’ guesses.”
The next guess is who will now face Senchenko (31-0, 20KO), who hasn’t fought since last August. A 12-round points win over Charlie Navarro marked the second defense of an alphabet title he acquired a year prior in a win over then-unbeaten countryman Yuriy Nuzhnenko.
Whomever he fights, chances are it will once again take place in his native Ukraine, which has housed all but one of his fights since turning pro in 2002. The 32-year old has longed for a fight in the United States, and was hoping that opportunity would come against Alvarez, whose popularity seemingly increases with each passing fight.
However, chasing a dream won’t include cutting short a training camp. Why pursue the biggest opportunity of your career, knowing that you won’t be at your best when it happens?
That is the road his handlers felt he was heading during negotiations, which is why they eventually moved on late last week.
“When time before the March 5 date reached less than eight weeks, and negotiations remained at the initial level, the decision to stop negotiations was accepted (by our team) and to begin searching for other opponents.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .