By Hans Olson
When Jean Pascal challenges Tavoris Cloud for his IBF Light Heavyweight title on Showtime Championship Boxing in August, Adonis Stevenson, one of the most exciting fighters in all of boxing, will open the telecast in an IBF eliminator.
The only problem is, he doesn’t have an opponent.
So far, Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Mikkel Kessler, Kelly Pavlik, and Sakio Bika have all passed on the opportunity to fight Stevenson.
Apparently, nobody seems all that interested in a televised bout on premium cable for the IBF’s number one rating at Super Middleweight.
Enter Andre Dirrell.
Dirrell, currently rated #11 by the IBF, is next in line (#10 Glen Johnson wasn’t available—he fights Andrzej Fonfara July 13 on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights).
Wednesday, Boxing Insider spoke with Stevenson’s promoter Yvon Michel.
“What we know is that they (Dirrell and Mayweather Promotions) have confirmed to the IBF that they’re willing to fight Adonis Stevenson for the number one position,” said Michel.
“I know his goal is to try to qualify himself for a rematch with Carl Froch. We haven’t spoken…we left a message with Leonard Ellerbe and [he] hadn’t returned the call. To make sure that we were not going to miss our deadline for August 11, as soon as I got the confirmation that Dirrell had agreed to participate, I requested a purse bid date, which has been set for [Friday] July 13. It will leave us enough time between the first bid made and August 11. If we have to have to go to the bid, and we win the bid, we will do that fight August 11. If ever we don’t come to a negotiated agreement and they win the bid, we’ll go wherever we have to.”
If things fall apart with Dirrell, Michel has a backup plan.
“Donovan George is ranked number 12. So we have reached an agreement—a two-way agreement—with his promoter. One, he will be on the show fighting against an opponent we’ll name a little later. If ever, even a week before the date, if ever an opening [presents itself]—let’s say something happened to Dirrell and he cannot come or if he has a change of heart and decides not to come—then Donovan George is willing, ready, and in good shape. He’s been in training for a while, so he will take over then.”
Ironically, Donovan George was recently in Detroit getting in work at the Kronk Gym where Stevenson trains with Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward. George was brought in to spar with Andy Lee in preparation for his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“They have seen each other, but they haven’t sparred,” noted Michel. “They haven’t trained at the same time.”
Stevenson, for his part, sounded excited at the prospect of fighting Dirrell, briefly telling Boxing Insider on Tuesday he’s “very happy to fight Andre Dirrell.”
Fans will be happy if Stevenson/Dirrell comes off.
Unfortunately, another fight on the undercard that was being negotiated between Quebec’s Kevin Bizier and England’s Matthew Hatton will not come off.
According to Michel, Hatton’s team ultimately decided not to go through with the proposed bout.
“We had an agreement with Matthew Hatton’s people, but finally after they had requested the tape of the last fight of Bizier, after they reviewed the tape, they have decided not to take the fight. We are in negotiations for Bizier to be against another opponent.”
Although no specific names were mentioned, Kevin Bizier will likely remain on the undercard in a featured bout.
As far as the rest of the undercard?
“A lot of it depend on if Adonis is fighting or not,” continued Michel.
“Don King is bringing two fights, so we cannot have too many fights on the show. There will be Logan McGuinness. He is with Adam Harris, a good, good partner and friend of us. And McGuinness, he is popular. It will be PPV here in Canada on both French and English, so the addition of Logan McGuinness will be good for the show.”