If there will ever be an all-Russian slugfest between Sergey Kovalev and Artur Beterbiev, it won't be in the immediate future. ESPN's Dan Rafael is now reporting that Yvon Michel, who promotes Beterbiev, has mulled over an offer from Kathy Duva to make the fight happen this November, but has decided to pass on the fight.
Kathy Duva made what was admitted by Michel to be an "honest offer" to Beterbiev - including a career-high six figure purse, a piece of the Canadian PPV/closed circuit money, and a straightforward rematch clause for Kovalev is he lost (with a 50/50 purse split.) But despite the good faith offer, Michel decided they wanted to take Beterbiev in another direction. He explained that their intention is to have Beterbiev take part in an IBF eliminator bout instead. The only thing is, Kovalev is the current IBF champion and taking this fight straight away could have gotten Beterbiev the IBF belt right now, along with the WBA and WBO titles that Kovalev also holds. So clearly this is more about buying time, experience, and circumstances for Beterbiev than anything else.
Now the IBF has ordered an eliminator bout between Beterbiev and Bernard Hopkins, who isn't expected to accept the fight, so Beterbiev would likely face the next available in line, presumablyErik Skoglund. The winner of the eliminator bout would be Kovalev's mandatory challenger for a fight that likely wouldn't take place until next year. This tactic provides Beterbiev's manager/adviser Al Haymon more time to force a purse bid for the bout, a bid Haymon's side is likely to win since his investor's money should easily trump whatever HBO (who has Kovalev under contract) is willing to pony up for the fight.
Ultimately, this response from Michel was much to the chagrin of Duva, who wrote back to Michel:
"You told the media that Beterbiev would take this fight if our offer was fair, which it clearly was. Sergey and I are quite disappointed that you have turned it down without even making a counter offer...
"It seems that you would rather posture and look for purse bids rather than actually make a fight.
"I hope that I am wrong and you will prove it by at least attempting to negotiate a fight, whether it be for Kovalev to fight Stevenson or Beterbiev. After all, Sergey is the only one contractually bound to a TV network and you have never once made an offer to me to make either of these fights that the fans so want to see. In the meantime, we will continue to make fights for Sergey against the best fighters who are actually willing to face him. As his star continues to rise, the terms I have offered to you for Beterbiev and Stevenson will not be open for long."
So, another day in boxing, another great fight falls by the wayside. Business as usual...