Sergey Kovalev, who holds the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight titles, and Adonis Stevenson, who holds the WBC title as well as the lineal championship of the division, have been at odds for a while now, dating back to an almost-made fight early in 2014, when Stevenson pulled out of negotiations, signed a deal with Al Haymon, and went to Showtime.
There was a lawsuit, which was dropped when Kovalev fought Bernard Hopkins later in the year, after it being assumed that Hopkins would fight Stevenson because both had been at Showtime. With the Golden Boy/Haymon and Golden Boy/Showtime relationships imploding, the old Cold War (Top Rank vs Golden Boy) may be gone, but about three new ones have come along to take its place.
Main Events also recently pulled out of a purse bid to make a Stevenson-Kovalev fight happen, because it was assumed they wouldn't be able to win against Haymon, who has a lot more money. Since Kovalev is signed with HBO, they reasoned that the fight couldn't be done on another network, and also cited financial unknowns and Kovalev's upcoming IBF mandatory bout with Nadjib Mohammedi, which takes place July 18.
"The current strength of the American dollar and fluctuating exchange rates in Russia and Canada make revenue predictions done six months in advance of this particular event even more speculative. Therefore, we cannot reliably project the anticipated revenue for a fight that would take place so far in the future. Taking into account Stevenson's alarming decline in popularity, the highly speculative nature of the bid and the fact that both Sergey and Stevenson are scheduled to take other fights this summer, the risk of guaranteeing a PPV event in the fall is prohibitive. We simply cannot make an informed bid under these circumstances."
Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KO) called out Stevenson (26-1, 21 KO) on Twitter last night and this morning to keep the fight in the media:
Stevenson let's to fight for all four belts on HBO! Common! Don't scare! I not going to punch you hard Be a real man!— Sergey Kovalev (@KrusherKovalev) May 12, 2015
Run Adonis! Run!— Sergey Kovalev (@KrusherKovalev) May 12, 2015
At this point, to be entirely fair to Stevenson, it's hard to argue he's actually running from the bout. At Duva's suggestion, the WBC did something it never does, and made the Kovalev-Pascal fight in March an eliminator, even though Kovalev was and is the titleholder for three other sanctioning bodies. With the win, Kovalev became the mandatory challenger, and the Stevenson side, be it promoter Yvon Michel or GYM or Haymon and his backers, were ready to go with the purse bid on April 17.
But that's not to say Kovalev is running scared, either. The fighters, in all likelihood, would not shy away from meeting one another. Outside of the ring, though, is where boxing's business matters take place, and fighters rarely have the last word on that. Stevenson wanted to sign with Haymon last year -- understandable, as he makes a lot of fighters a lot more money than they'd make without him -- and that killed the fight then. Main Events didn't like the purse bid timing, and that killed the fight this time.
At this point, this fight just isn't going to happen. It is less Mayweather-Pacquiao than, say, Klitschko-Haye, but nonetheless a major league headache for fight fans who just want to see the best fights, and this is the best possible fight at 175 pounds.