Sunday, December 03, 2023  |


No-go on Sergey Kovalev-Artur Beterbiev?

Fighters Network
Artur Beterbiev (L) en route to a seventh-round knockout of Alexander Johnson in June 2015. Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Artur Beterbiev (L) en route to a seventh-round knockout of Alexander Johnson in June 2015. Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Eyes were opened and appetites whetted when we heard Main Events CEO Kathy Duva saying she wanted her Russian terminator’s next bout to take place in November in Russia and for IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev’s foe to be pro neophyte Artur Beterbiev.
Of course, hardcore fans conjured the mental roadblocks: Duva had lodged a suit versus Beterbiev promoter Yvon Michel and is no fan of the paradigm shift enacted by Beterbiev adviser Al Haymon.
The cynics (the realists?) asked why waste air talking about it; Kovalev versus Beterbiev ain’t happening. Well, it ain’t happening in November in Russia. Here is the text of an email promoter Michel sent Duva on Wednesday:
Good evening Kathy,
First I wish to thank you again for your offer regarding Beterbiev and the opportunity to fight against Sergey Kovalev in Moscow on November 28. I believe it was a move in the right direction and you have made a honest offer considering the potential resources.
I am confirming to you again the intention for Beterbiev to box against your champion in the very near future.
After our meeting with Artur Beterbiev and his trainer today we have decided it would be best, for the moment, to go into the direction offered yesterday by the IBF and have Artur to fight for the IBF mandatory position.
So right after I send you this message I will write to the IBF that we have accepted to fight for the title eliminator against Bernard Hopkins.
Please be sure this decision has nothing to do with our past relationship together. You have proposed to buried the hatchet and we have agreed with you. We wish to continue an open dialog because there are great fights, between boxers of our 2 organizations, to be made for the benefit of all involved.
Once Beterbiev is having one more fight and becomes the mandatory we would be open to do an immediate fight with the champion in early in 2016. At that moment we are convinced the potential revenues will be much more important then what you can get in November.
Meantime we will still try to be creative and find a way, with you, to get Adonis Stevenson and other light heavyweights under both our control, into the mix.
I hope this message finds you well,
All the best
Michel explained to me the thinking behind not grabbing the Main Events offer now. “Our rationale is revenue and visibility will be generated on that fight in North America. One more fight will be good to Beterbiev…And by fighting for mandatory position, we show we want to fight Kovalev. Our priority is Beterbiev, not to please Kathy Duva,” Michel told me.
Duva didn’t seem pleased in the least when she responded to the Michel turndown. Kathy’s response to Yvon’s answer. “Sergey and I are quite disappointed that you have turned it down without even making a counter-offer,” Duva told the Canadian dealmaker.
She then pointed out that in a similar situation, Kovalev fought Nathan Cleverly because he wanted an immediate title shot, instead of waiting for an offer that might be better, against Bernard Hopkins. He had the cake and ate it too, basically.

Duva, unafraid to stake out her turf, continued, “You say that you want to bury the hatchet but actions speak louder than words. It seems that you would rather posture and look for purse bids rather than actually make a fight.”

She holds out hope that Michel will step to the line with either Adonis Stevenson or Beterbiev in tow.

Duva finished with a flurry: “As his star continues to rise, the terms I have offered to you for Beterbiev and Stevenson will not be open for long.”

Yes, this battle outside the ring features fire and copious ring generalship. As always, as fans, we hope that political stuff gets ironed out so the most compelling bouts get made. I hold out hope, which might seem quaint…


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