WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson exploded on the boxing radar last year with his amazing display of power. In 2014 he’s getting more talk for his business decisions than his performances in the ring.
Last year Stevenson earned knockout wins over Darnell Boone, Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, and Tony Bellew. In the process he captured his first world championship and earned a spot amongst some of the most dangerous punchers in the world.
It was perfect timing for HBO; they’ve been looking for a star to carry the super middleweight/light heavy divisions for quite some time. They believed they had found two fighters to fill that role in Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Both have the size/strength combo to end any fight with one punch and the possibility of a late summer bout between the two had boxing fans salivating.
Alas it seems as though that fight and Stevenson’s presence at HBO will have to take a back seat for the near future. Stevenson was having difficulty agreeing to terms with HBO for his May 24th fight against Andrzej Fonfara, so he opened himself up to other opportunities. Those opportunities came in the form of boxing advisor Al Haymon, whom Stevenson signed with in February. Haymon is one of the most respected, yet least liked, figures in boxing and his resume can not be challenged. He gets his fighters into the best fights and he gets them top dollar.
With Haymon by his side Stevenson wanted what he felt was his worth from HBO, even though his May fight was looked at as nothing but a tune up for a fight against Kovalev. HBO felt they had agreed to lesser terms before Haymon came aboard and wasn’t budging from that position. This begins a whirlwind of “he say, she say” talk but here’s what Stevenson’s camp felt happened.
Showitme boxing wasted no time in contacting both Haymon and Stevenson to offer them what they felt was a better deal. Nearly all of Haymon’s fighters are under the Showtime umbrella so this signing can easily be seen as a pre-determined jump by Stevenson, but his promoter assures that wasn’t the case.
In a statement made by Yvon Michel (Stevenson’s Promoter) on Facebook she says that her fighter simply took the best deal offered to him and that HBO had the right to retain his services.
“First we want to thank HBO for the ride with Adonis in 2013. They gave him his first chance and they have raised him to the star status. We only have great comments for all HBO’s executive with whom we have worked very well and have established great relationship. I have presented what I believed was an excellent multi fight deal offer to Adonis from HBO with a deadline set for March 11th for approval.
“After discussions we have decided to pass and we got a better offer Showtime. HBO had the right to match any offers so we sent them a copy. They had until today to match it but have decided otherwise. This was pure business decision for all parties involved, nothing personal or immoral.
“We wish to praise M. Steven Espinoza of Showtime for his ambition to do business Adonis and GYM which was reflected into the offer he has presented, we are thankful to him. We are looking forward for a fruitful association. Adonis Stevenson was the fighter of the year for many websites and publications in 2013 and feels he is treated that way. His goals are to keep fighting and winning spectacular fights by knockout, to unify the light heavyweight titles and raised his recognition to the top 5 pound for pound this year. The next step is May 24th at the Montreal Bell Center against young #1 IBF/WBO and #3 WBC contender Andrzej Fonfara.”
Once again this is a very one sided statement but it can be seen that Stevenson’s priorities lie with the here and now, not with future promises. Stevenson was most likely looking at a PPV against Kovalev for August or September and the biggest pay day of his life but the allure of Showtime’s contract was enough to take the money now. With Adonis being in his late-30s its no surprise that he took the money now. Its no different than NFL players searching for that guaranteed money at the end of their career. They just never know when it’ll abruptly end and the demand will be gone.
This isn’t to say that Stevenson won’t have the ability to fight in marquee fights under Showtime. A fight later in the summer with Bernard Hopkins is very much a possibility. Hopkins is still a major draw at the age of 49 and a victory against him would turn Stevenson into more of a household name than a win over Kovalev. Diehard boxing fans wouldn’t hold a victory over Hopkins with the same weight as one over Kovalev but money is made with the casual fans not the diehards.
If Hopkins loses to Beibut Shumenov in April it becomes an even better situation for Stevenson because it aligns him to be the man who retires Hopkins for good and then who captures 3 of the 4 major light heavyweight titles with a win over Shumenov. Of course these wins are all hypothetical but in a years time Stevenson could put himself firmly in the top 5 P4P boxers with that resume.
At that point he’d have the upper hand to negotiate a fight with Kovalev for the title of best light heavyweight in the world. It’s just a rough estimate but I’d assume he’d get somewhere near a 65-35 or 60-40 split in that fight, whereas he probably would’ve fought Kovalev this summer for 50-50 at best.
Sure a victory over Kovalev in his absolute prime would give a huge boost to Stevenson’s legacy but a knockout loss would put his career into a backslide. The only reason to risk that is for a large pay day and with his new Showtime deal he’s put himself in position to take that gamble in the future if it makes sense to him financially.
Boxing is all about the money and Stevenson is just making sure he gets his cut.