By Hans Olson
It’s been a hectic few weeks for Yvon Michel, who has been busy finding a new date for the postponed clash between Jean Pascal and Tavoris Cloud, along with working out the revised date and locale for Adonis Stevenson’s IBF eliminator against Donovan George.
Friday, Boxing Insider caught up the Canada’s premier fight promoter to discuss those very topics, what’s next for future stars Kevin Bizier and Eleider Alvarez, and Canada’s recent Olympians Custio Clayton and Simon Kean.
Boxing Insider: Can you tell me about the how the new date for Adonis Stevenson vs. Donovan George on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights came about?
Yvon Michel: “After we had postponed the Pascal/Cloud fight, I got a call from Doug Loughrey who asked me if I would consider—Doug Loughrey is the programming director from ESPN. He asked me if I would consider to have Adonis fight the next week on ESPN because they had some problems. Their show was supposed to be in California, but there were injuries and problems. It was not for sure, but he was in search for a new main event, and even more, a new site. But he had a co-feature already organized, and the co-feature was with [Warriors Boxing Promoter] Leon Margules. Right away I spoke to Leon. Leon is a good friend of mine, and Leon, Donovan George, Adonis, Emanuel Steward…everybody was in agreement to try to save that fight and to do whatever was possible to do it. So we called back Doug and we told him that we were interested.
“It was just a question of making a deal together on the terms. Again, it was not too difficult. Doug was very open to say what his budget was, what he could invest in it, and we figured it out. Leon and I figured out how we would split it and how we would do it. So it came unexpected. We were just about to find a date in September to do that fight in Montreal, but when that opportunity arose and everybody was for it, we decided to go forward. Hats off to Doug Loughrey who had that idea at first, and again, to both fighters who right away, never hesitated one minute. Adonis said right away he was willing to do it. At that time, we didn’t even know where. There was discussion to do it in Florida, some discussion to do it in Chicago…finally we got an offer from the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma who was willing to serve as the host of the event. So that’s how we got there.”
Why do you think Donovan George and his team have been so cooperative compared to everybody else? Nobody else wanted to fight…
“Because they have confidence in their fighter. They believed he has what it takes to beat Adonis Stevenson since the beginning of the search for a fighter, for a contender willing to fight Adonis. I had received a call from Leon Margules saying that his guy, his manager had called him and knew he was far away in the rankings, but they said right away if the selection goes down to us, we would be willing to take the fight. That’s why we had arranged for George to be on the show at first against another opponent just to keep him active. We wanted to keep him motivated, to train in order to jump even at the last minute on the opportunity. We had a feeling that the other fighters were going to turn it down.”
Are there any concerns with fighting in America as far as judging and everything else knowing that Donovan is an American fighter?
“The same judges that we appointed for Montreal, they are judging in Oklahoma. So there’s a judge from Oklahoma, one from Canada, and one from Mexico. And at the contrary…you know, when you have problems you have to try to turn it to your advantage. Yes, it was a great opportunity for Adonis to fight that fight in Montreal, but on the other hand it’s also a great opportunity to gain experience to travel in an unfriendly environment. For sure, people over there will cheer for Donovan George, so he will not have the comfort to be at home. There’s a great possibility that when he’ll fight for the IBF title he will have to fight outside Canada, so I believe this is a great, great opportunity for Adonis to show that he’s not a homer—that he can perform as well on the road as at home, and on top of that gain experience doing it somewhere else.”
Is there anything that you can share relating to Pascal/Cloud? Has there been any movement for the rescheduled date?
“Yeah, within a week we should announce a new date.”
Kevin Bizier…is he still going to be featured high on the undercard?
“We haven’t finalized the date, and that will depend on the date. We might have Kevin Bizier lead his own show in Quebec City against the opponent that he had (Gumersindo Lucas Carrasco). I don’t necessarily want Kevin to wait that long.”
I was actually just going to ask when the next time was that a GYM card would be in Quebec City…
“We have several different scenarios depending on the date of Pascal/Cloud, but as soon as that will be set, then we will set our schedule for the fall.”
Eleider Alvarez, his last fight was a good one for him—his first 12-rounder. A couple months removed, how has he recovered from his first 12-round fight and what’s the plan for him?
“Great! The plan is to bring him in the top-10 of his division within the next six months. So he will fight a world ranked opponent. We have a lot of confidence, we have a lot of hope in Eleider Alvarez. I see him train every day. He has all the tools to become a major player in the light heavyweight division and he will have the opportunity to prove himself shortly.”
Finally, since you used to be involved in the Olympic program, what did you think of Canada’s men’s team of Custio Clayton and specifically Simon Kean who’s from Quebec?
“I believe they did great! There was only two fighters and that’s a shame. There should be more fighters being able to represent Canada in the Olympic games but Simon and Clayton did extremely well. I believe Clayton could easily have got the decision and gotten to the medal standing. I watched his fight carefully and I really believe that he won. Kean, he’s young, only 23. He did great by beating the Frenchman at first but he didn’t have the necessary experience for his next fight. But both of them, I can foresee a great great future for them if they stay amateur a little longer or they turn pro. But I believe they have a great future.”
If you were advising Simon Kean, would you suggest that he does what Lennox Lewis did and stay amateur 4 more years and get ready for the 2016 games?
“Absolutely. I would suggest that. I’m even willing to sit with his trainer and the people around him to see what we can do to help him to stay amateur longer.”
A lot of people thought that Didier Bence could have been in medal contention had he stayed amateur, but of course now he’s with you as a pro…
“Yeah, but it was a decision that he made. Yes, it’s true, before signing Didier Bence we had recommended him to stay amateur a little longer but he chose otherwise. So we respected that, and I believe Bence will have a great run in the pros too. I will advise the same thing for Simon, but if he wants to turn pro, I definitely will be interested in working with him.”