By Luke Furman
Yvon Michel, promoter for WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, has reacted to the circulating stories regarding claims of "collusion" in the recent purse bid for the mandatory defense against undefeated Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
After the participant envelopes were deposited at a Manhattan hotel - where the WBC's purse was being stages - promoter Tom Brown, through his representative Phil Weiss, easily won with a bid of $3.102 million. For their part, Michel (GYM) and Carl Moretti (Gvozfyk's promoter Top Rank) had submitted bids of $2.10 million and $1.675 million.
However, less than a minute after the purse bid was concluded by WBC supervisor Bob Yalen, Weiss withdrew his offer, even though he had 10 days to do so. According to the rules of the WBC, the holder of the second highest bid wins the rights to the fight - which was Michel.
Brown's company was there on behalf of Al Haymon, who is Stevenson's manager.
There were immediate claims that Michel and Brown were working together to ensure Top Rank was not successful at the purse bid.
But Michel rejects those claims.
"I did not know he was going to be there and I didn't know about the offer he was going to make," said Michel to The Journal de Montreal.
"For my part, I went there to win. I was expecting Top Rank to put between $1.5 and $1.7 million in its envelope. So I needed $1.8 million to beat them. I decided to stretch my neck up to $2.10 million to be sure to win."
As for Brown's maneuver, Michel was a good sport.
"I know it sounds very bad. It's awkward, but not illegal according to WBC regulations," Michel said. "[Haymon] certainly believed that I did not have the funds to win the purse bid. I did my analysis and made my offer independently. "
In the minutes after the announcement of the result, Top Rank's Bob Arum and Carl Moretti were furious. The of them wanted to appeal in order to restart the bidding process. A few hours later, Moretti and Arum had changed their tone.
Michel is planning to stage the card on November 3 in Quebec City.
In the meantime, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman will announce on Thursday whether or not he is going to provide his sanction to this fight. It would be surprising if he decided to call a second purse bid.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org