Sunday, February 05, 2023  |



Adonis Stevenson’s promoter wants Stevenson-Kovalev in 2015

Photo by Amanda Kwok/Showtime

Photo by Amanda Kwok/Showtime


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – When RING light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson left HBO for network rival Showtime in March, presumably to pursue a shot at Bernard Hopkins, WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev, who is aligned with HBO, lamented “a lost opportunity to knock out” Stevenson.

Ironically, Hopkins detoured from Showtime for last Saturday’s HBO-televised fight with Kovalev, whose resounding unanimous decision added Hopkins’ IBF and WBA belts to his resume and led the winner’s promoter, Kathy Duva, to all but label Stevenson as an afterthought.

“Stevenson can duck all that he wants,” said Duva, CEO of Main Events, during the post-fight press conference for Kovalev-Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall. “I think that Adonis Stevenson has made himself completely irrelevant.”

In his last fight in May, Stevenson (24-1, 20 knockouts) won a spirited unanimous decision over Andrzej Fonfara, scoring knockdowns in the first and fifth rounds and rising from the canvas himself in the ninth.

Stevenson’s next appearance is slated for Dec. 19 against Russian Dmitry Sukhotsky, a winner of four straight bouts. Sukhotsky last suffered defeat by unanimous decision in July 2012 to Cornelius White, whom Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) dropped three times in the final round of a third-round stoppage victory in June 2013.

Given that Sukhotsky’s credentials include a second-round stoppage of Kovalev’s mandatory challenger, Nadjib Mohammedi, from October 2011, Duva strongly believes that to be a fight Stevenson could lose.

“To be perfectly honest. Somebody’s gonna beat Stevenson,” said Duva. “In my view, he is a fringe contender who could lose to absolutely anyone.”

Stevenson’s promoter, Yvon Michel, called it “sad” that Duva derided his fighter.

“You don’t need to discredit someone to try to bring credit to your own fighter, so it’s sad that she’s playing that game,” said Michel. “She knows that the best fight out there and the fight that everybody will want to see is a Sergey Kovalev-Adonis Stevenson fight, so let’s hope that we will be able to find a way to do it sometime in 2015.”

Duva disagrees.

“I don’t think that this is about Adonis Stevenson,” said Duva, “so much as it is that we’ll someday be going after the WBC title against whoever holds it. We’ll find out.”

Kovalev and Stevenson share a common opponent in journeyman Darnell Boone, having each faced him twice.

Stevenson, 37, was stopped by Boone in the second round in April 2010 but stopped him in the sixth round of their return bout in March 2013. Kovalev won a split decision over Boone in October 2010 and won their rematch by second-round technical knockout in June 2012.

Stevenson is 14-1, with 13 knockouts in his past 15 fights, and had stopped 10 consecutive opponents entering his fight with Fonfara.

Stevenson had a tremendous run in 2013, going 4-0, all knockouts, starting with his final 168-pound bout against Boone. Stevenson dethroned Chad Dawson for THE RING and WBC championships with a 76-second knockout in his 175-pound debut in June 2013.

Next, Stevenson scored a seventh-round technical knockout over former beltholder Tavoris Cloud in September 2013, with the latter being stopped for the first time in his career. Last November, Stevenson knocked out Tony Bellew, doing so by sixth-round technical knockout.

Kovalev, meanwhile, took a run of 13-0-1, with 13 knockouts into his clash with Hopkins, whom he routed by scores of 120-107, twice, and 120-106.

In his last fight prior to Hopkins in August, Kovalev, 31, rose from a first-round knockdown to stop Blake Caparello in the second round, dropping Caparello three times en route to the TKO win.

Caparello represented the third defense of the belt Kovalev won from previously unbeaten Nathan Cleverly in August 2013.

Prior to facing Hopkins, Kovalev knocked out Ismayl Sillakh in the second round in November 2013 and stopped Cedric Agnew in the seventh round in March 2014. Like Stevenson, Agnew and Caparello are southpaws.

“This man is the champion and he is the guy to beat at the light heavyweight division,” said Hopkins, in part, after losing to Kovalev, whom he called “the real deal” as well as “a strong candidate for ‘Fighter of The Year.'”

“Obviously, the other light heavyweight [Stevenson] didn’t want to fight him. I chose to fight him…Tonight, he was the better man and that’s cut and dried. You can’t water that down and you can’t add anything to that. He deserves to be respected by all of the other writers.”

Stevenson’s stoppage of Dawson came against the man whose majority decision win dethroned Hopkins as RING/WBC champion in April 2012.

Stevenson signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon in February.

“It’s sad that Kathy has to be making that kind of statement. Adonis Stevenson is the WBC and the linear champion. He beat Chad Dawson, who truly beat Bernard Hopkins. So they can brag and or whatever they want,” said Michel.

“I agree that, for the moment, the most popular light heavyweight fighter is Sergey Kovalev. He proved himself when he beat Hopkins. But that was the first time ever that he fought a quality fighter. So it was his first fight with the elite and he did very, very good. I’m very happy for him.”