The IBF says that they will order negotiations to begin between super middleweight champion Carl Froch and mandatory challenger Adonis Stevenson on December 26, but there are plenty of doubts about that fight actually taking place, and a number of scenarios that could come into play instead.
Let's break this down to the key players.
- Froch is facing Yusaf Mack on November 17 in the United Kingdom, and if he wins as is expected, he has a contractual obligation to rematch Lucian Bute next in Montreal. All indications are that that fight will go ahead in March 2013 or thereabouts; sometime in the spring.
- Bute faces Denis Grachev on November 3. If he were to lose that fight -- unlikely but not impossible, certainly -- the rematch probably goes away.
- Stevenson has nothing lined up, but there's always been a chance he'd be waiting on this fight.
Yvon Michel, Stevenson's promoter, says they would be willing to accept a step-aside deal to allow Froch-Bute II to happen, but that he's not confident either of them would want to do that. Bute, he says, has never given any indication he wants to fight Stevenson, and Froch has said he'd like to fight Mack, then Bute, and then perhaps rematch Mikkel Kessler or Andre Ward.
The interesting thing is that the belt is a big set piece here, perhaps more than usual, even. Froch wants the belt, of course, and more important than that, Bute will want it back; Bute wouldn't have much great reason to rematch a guy who beat the crap out of him without that belt on the line. Stevenson wants his shot, obviously, and he and Michel will do all they can to force that, even if it means pressuring the IBF to vacate the title.
But again, it's doubtful Froch would want to vacate -- it could make the Bute rematch, a good money opportunity, slip away.