In a letter handed to WBN, Michel responded to Duva pulling out of the stipulated WBC purse to make the fight after stating that Kovalev cannot fight on any other network other than HBO. With Stevenson on rival TV station Showtime, Michel is still willing to discuss what may be the best deal for all involved – which will be music to the ears of the fight public.
A fight between WBC title holder Stevenson and WBA / WBO champion Kovalev is high on the list of must make encounters with the fans, and as Michel outlined in the correspondence below, the massive clash is not dead in the water just yet.
This letter is to confirm that we received the correspondence yesterday regarding your offer for a unification title fight between Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Thank you very much.
You have informed me that you have exclusive ties with HBO and cannot fight on another network, which is unfortunate because it might prevent this clash from getting the best possible value for a fight of this tremendous magnitude.
You must have done your deal with HBO just recently because you were quoted, right after the Pascal fight on March 14, 2015, that it was Kovalevs last fight of your current contract with the network. This is one of the reasons we requested the WBC to hold a rapid purse bid since we believed you could freely participate on what has the potential to be the richest light heavyweight fight in boxing history. You certainly knew that agreeing to a new contract with HBO without having their full support to win the bid was jeopardizing the fight from happening.
You complained to the WBC that we have not communicated with you in terms of engaging negotiations prior to requesting a purse bid. You are correct. Considering our past experiences together, as well as our different network affiliation, we did not believe a negotiated agreement was possible and subsequently requested that the WBC skip this unnecessary phase.
At the last WBC convention, you petitioned to have your fighter become the mandatory contender to Stevenson, requesting a 50-50 split on a purse bid, but you failed to specify that, at all costs, the fight had to be on HBO.
In your proposal, you mentioned: “We choose the venue based upon who offers the best deal. Our guiding principle will be maximization of revenues.” We are totally in agreement with you but don’t understand why this principle cannot be applied on the US television partner as well. We both agreed would not hold the fight in Atlantic City with no guarantees, if we can have a 2 million offer in Ouebec City. The same should apply for television.
My feeling is that our television partners are placing a higher value on the fight than yours. Maybe I am wrong but going to purse bid would clarify the situation.
Regarding the popularity of Adonis Stevenson in Ouebec, you are making a bold, false statement and have probably been wrongly informed by pretending it is in decline. The fight against Bika on Saturday of Easter weekend was presented live on free network here, in English on CBS and French on TVA Sports. According to Mr. Serge Fortin, Vice President of TVA Sports, ratings for the Stevenson vs. Bika fight were the best in the history of the network for boxing, reaching nearly 400,000 viewers and an 18.5 share of the market. During the fight, TVA Sports was the most watched television station in Ouebec, including terrestrial networks!
Now, regarding Stevensons popularity in the USA, his April 4th fight on CBS against Bika had an average of 1.7 million viewers, peaking at 1.85 million. This is more than any fight involving Kovalev, including his against Hopkins and the Pascal. Not only was Stevenson vs. Bika held on Easter Sunday weekend, it was against a fighter born in Cameroon who lives in Australia and no connection or fan base in the US market.
You are backing off the purse bid blaming Stevensons popularity, several economic factors and production conflicts. In reality, it seems like you are really afraid of looking bad with your bid. We certainly are willing to put forward the best purse bid ever for the division but, contrary to your pretentions, it takes more than 90 days to get the best economic result when organizing an event. This is a mistake the boxing system forces us to do. In show business, advertisements of sales for an event are placed up to a year in advance. This is how they fill-up stadiums! Here in Ouebec, the most profitable boxing event ever was the Pascal vs. Bute fight, in which revenues were nearly 6 million (only 500,000 from HBO. There was a period of 11 months spanning the first press conference to the day of the fight.
Anyway, if you do not believe the potential economic success of this event, or you are concern of not receiving the necessary backing, just sit back and let us take the risk and do the job. Your fighter will make as much money in this single fight then all his other career fights combined.
We believe the Stevenson vs. Kovalev light heavyweight unification title fight is the most anticipated and publicly demanded fight of 2015, ranking only behind Mayweather v Pacquiao. We also believe it is one of the most important fights in the history of the light heavyweight division. GYM and Adonis definitely want to make it happen. Acting as if you have the best light heavyweight champion is, at best, pretentious. The world will know only when they face each other in the ring. In the end, though, maybe you prefer to avoid it?
I believe the best way to resolve this situation is a purse bid. But in an act of good faith and desire to see this fight happen, albeit it with some adjustments, we are willing to accept your offer of co-promoting the fight together with a 50-50 split and avoid going to purse bid. However, one major point is we have to be able to maximize revenues in all departments, including television. We cannot blindly agree to a deal. We need to know how much HBO is willing to invest in a licensing fee, in comparison to what we can get on our side, in order to choose the best offer.
You have very often publically stated Stevenson was an ordinary fighter ready to get beat. If it is the case there is no risk for you, you win and bring Kovalev back on HBO right after.
Please let me know if these terms are acceptable for you. If you need to discuss further, you may reach me on the phone at anytime.
Yvon Michel, GYM President / General Manager.