The World Boxing Council have exclusively revealed to WBN that WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson has moved to fight a voluntary challenger, rather than his mandatory option in Tony Bellew.
This surprising news came just hours after Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that the WBC had ordered Stevenson to defend his belt against the Liverpudlian and begin negotiations in the coming weeks.
When contacted in the wake of Hearn’s announcement, WBC general manager Jose Arreola Sulaiman told World Boxing News: “Stevenson has requested a voluntary defense just today. The WBC will look into this matter and will have a position next week.”
Although Sulaiman’s statement does not automatically mean Stevenson’s request will be granted, the WBC’s decision not to flat out refuse the appeal by the champion means that an interim fight before Bellew is a distinct possibility.
Bellew, 30, defeated Isaac Chilema to secure his place as the number one challenger just prior to 35 year-old Stevenson demolishing respected title holder Chad Dawson in just one round to claim the coveted accolade. There then had been talk of a possible clash for Stevenson against Bernard Hopkins, although it seems more likely that the oldest world title holder in history will reschedule his recently scrapped fight with his own mandatory Karo Murat.
If Stevenson’s wish to keep Bellew waiting is accepted though, it may be mean the Briton will be forced to wait until December at the earliest to participate in another world title challenge after losing to WBO king Nathan Cleverly in 2011.