By Keith Idec
Now that Adonis Stevenson’s mandatory challenger is headed in a different direction, Stevenson can move forward with his higher-profile fight against Badou Jack.
Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) and Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) agreed several months ago to fight May 19. Yvon Michel, whose Quebec-based company promotes Stevenson, issued a press release 2 ½ months ago that indicated Stevenson-Jack would take place at Bell Centre in Montreal, where the Haitian-born, Quebec-based Stevenson has fought 12 times as a pro.
Michel couldn’t put tickets on sale, however, until an issue with Eleider Alvarez, the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title, was officially resolved Wednesday. Michel acknowledged to rds.ca last week that the Stevenson-Alvarez predicament was holding up his promotion of the more appealing Stevenson-Jack fight.
Alvarez also is promoted by Michel, who was working on a step-aside agreement with Alvarez’s manager, Stephane Lepine, that would’ve allowed Stevenson-Jack to proceed as planned. The undefeated southpaw has been the WBC’s mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s title since defeating South Africa’s Isaac Chilemba in November 2015, yet he has fought four times since then, twice on Stevenson’s undercards.
Now that Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) instead agreed to fight WBO champ Sergey Kovalev, an announcement is expected no later than Thursday regarding ticket sales for the Stevenson-Jack card.
Michel ultimately came to an agreement with Main Events CEO Kathy Duva for Alvarez to challenge Russia’s Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) sometime this summer (https://www.boxingscene.com/kovalev-fight-eleider-alvarez-not-browne-date-venue-tba--127290). Kovalev is promoted by Main Events.
Alvarez signed a contract Wednesday morning to finalize the deal. The date and venue for the Kovalev-Alvarez fight haven’t been finalized, but HBO will televise their 12-round fight for the Kovalev’s 175-pound championship.
Showtime will air Stevenson-Jack as the main event of split-site doubleheader May 19.
That telecast also will feature a 12-round bout between WBC featherweight champ Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and mandatory challenger Joseph Diaz Jr. (26-0, 14 KOs), of Downey, California. Russell-Diaz will headline a separate card May 19 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.