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Is Adonis Stevenson avoiding Kovalev and Hopkins?

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Despite his proclamations of wanting to unify titles, Stevenson's team is eying a Jean Pascal fight should he not fall flat against Sukhotsky.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

"Either Bernard Hopkins or Sergey Kovalev, it does not matter who wins," said Stevenson, 37. "I would fight the winner anytime, anywhere, any place."

"I want to unify the titles whether it's Bernard or Kovalev. I want the fight; [advisor] Al Haymon wants the fight, so for sure, I will await the winner and I will fight the winner anytime, anywhere."

Yet instead of fighting either Hopkins or Kovalev, Stevenson is fighting Dmitry Sukhotsky - a pretty big letdown for those with high expectations of Adonis. So circumstances beg the question of whether or not Stevenson really had any intentions of taking on either of these two opponents at all. Lets take a moment to backtrack and see how we got to this point.

Early this year fans were buzzing with excitement as it looked like a legitimate match-up between WBC champion, Adonis Stevenson, and WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev, was on the horizon. Not only was this a fight to unify titles, it was also a true pick-em match that looked to be just as competitive on paper as it would have proven to be in the ring. Up until that point, when asked about potential opponents, Stevenson seemingly always beamed a smile and mentioned Bernard Hopkins - citing that the late Emanuel Steward had always wanted that fight for him. When asked about his interest in Kovalev, that smile quickly dimmed and the enthusiasm dissipated almost instantly. But in spite of that, it began looking like the Stevenson-Kovalev match was going to be made anyways - if not for any other reason than to get Kathy Duva to drop that pesky lawsuit against Al Haymon.

Then, the news broke that Adonis Stevenson would be leaving HBO and taking is act to Showtime. This immediately killed the promise of a Kovalev fight, and most media and fans alike assumed that Stevenson would continue to chase a Hopkins fight by aligning himself with Hopkins network. However, to the surprise of many, Bernard Hopkins instead opted to take an extremely dangerous fight with Sergey Kovalev. Not many expected him to do this, and I don't think many people would have ridiculed the nearly 50-year-old man if he'd decided to skirt what most consider to be one of the most dangerous punchers in the sport. Hopkins' legacy was already cemented and he really didn't need to subject himself to this kind of opposition, but that's just not the kind of man - or alien - that Bernard Hopkins is.

Fans were still thrilled with the exciting match-up that was to come, but where did that leave Stevenson exactly? Well, that left him with middling opponent Dmitry Sukhotsky. Of course, most are still excited to see Stevenson take on the winner of Hopkins-Kovalev, but that doesn't seem to be in Team Stevenson's plans at the moment. Instead, Yvon Michel, who manages Stevenson wants to put together a fight with Jean Pascal.

"After this fight with Sukhotsky, Adonis' mandatory contender is Jean Pascal. We have a date for Stevenson-Pascal at the Bell Centre in Montreal on April 4," said Michel. "So when he's talking about the winner of Hopkins-Kovalev, then he's talking about that happening after the mandatory with Pascal."

Its not that a fight with Pascal isn't an okay match, its just not one that anyone was truly looking forward to. So, again, this begs the question, did Stevenson ever really want either Hopkins or Kovalev? Taking the mandatory fight is kind of a cop out since we all know the WBC would surely give him a pass to take on either Hopkins or Kovalev. And let us not forget that Stevenson is already 37 years old so he probably doesn't have a lot time left in peak physical condition. I honestly don't believe Stevenson is "ducking" Hopkins the way he was incessantly chasing him around by dropping his name into every microphone held to his face. I think both Stevenson and his team saw a Hopkins fight as pretty easy pickin's for a belt-grab given his size, skills, and strength. Sergey Kovalev? Maybe not so much. In fact, I believe his whole team knows that Kovalev is a completely different animal, and perhaps one they don't want to try to tackle if it can be avoided. And given the way many of Al Haymon's fights are selected, I have no doubt they can easily keep away from that fight if they so choose.

So how do you feel about a potential Stevenson-Pascal fight? Is Stevenson avoiding Kovalev or Hopkins?