Promoter Yvon Michel said that he expects to announce plans for RING/WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson as early as next week, choosing this week to focus on Saturday's all-Canadian 175-pound bout between ex-titleholders Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute at Bell Centre in Montreal on HBO.
Stevenson (23-1, 20 knockouts), a 36-year-old southpaw who scored four knockouts over the course of 2013, is coming off November's sixth-round KO of Tony Bellew, representing his 10th-straight stoppage victory and one that he accurately predicted would come within six rounds.
Since then, Stevenson has been mentioned as a potential rival to Russian WBO light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who stopped Ukrainian Ismayl Sillakh on the Stevenson-Bellew undercard. Kovalev.
Stevenson has also expressed the desire to face IBF light heavweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins, who, at 48, scored a unanimous decision that dethroned Tavoris Cloud last March, extending his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown. Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) was last in the ring for October's unanimous decision over Karo Murat.
"We will announce the future plans for Adonis next week. We want to focus on Jean Pascal's fight this week," said Michel, who handles both Stevenson and Pascal.
"If we start to talk about Adonis, then reporters will start to talk about it, and so, we've decided to be quiet about that this week to leave the focus on Pascal-Bute."
Against Bellew, Stevenson fought at 175-pounds for only the third straight time, yet he has scored knockouts in his past 13 wins. Last March, Stevenson came up with a sixth-round stoppage against journeyman Darnell Boone in a super middleweight bout, avenging the Canadian’s second-round knockout loss from April of 2010.
Last June, Stevenson rose into the light heavyweight division for a clash of southpaws with Chad Dawson, whom he stopped in 76 seconds with what he called his “Superman punch” to become the RING and WBC 175-pound champion.
In August — six days after his 36th birthday — Stevenson out-boxed and out-slugged Cloud for a seventh-round knockout in defense of his belts.
Meanwhile, Kovalev is 11-0-1, with 11 knockouts in his past 12 fights. In August, Kovalev dethroned previously unbeaten Nathan Cleverly with a fourth-round stoppage, flooring Cleverly twice in the third. Prior to facing Cleverly, Kovalev had third-round stoppages former titleholder Gabriel Campillo and once-beaten Cornelius White in January and June.
Hopkins, who turns 49 on Jan. 15, may be in line to meet WBA beltholder Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs), the latter of whom ended an 18-month absence with December's third-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Tamas Kovacs.
Still, Schaefer expressed optimism during a December interview that he believed the weight class could be unified following a 175-pound tournament of sorts.
“I consider Yvon Michel a friend, and I think that he’s a terrific promoter and that he’s been doing a terrific job in Canada building up his fighters, over and over and over. He’s a good promoter and knows what he is doing. Kathy Duva, sometimes we haven’t seen eye-to-eye, but I have no problems with Kathy Duva. I respect that she is somebody who thinks outside of the box and that she’s proactive in doing things for the benefit of the sport. With HBO, I believe that this is not like we got this nasty divorce, and we’re talking s__t about them, and they’re talking s__t about us,” said Schaefer.
“It’s not like we’re never going to be able to shake each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes again. They have moved on and they’ve had a great year, and we’ve moved on and we’ve had a great year, and Showtime has moved on and had a great year. It’s been a great year for boxing, so there is no animosity between me and HBO. So I definitely see that, whether it’s Showtime, or if it’s HBO, that eventually, the right fights will happen, including Hopkins against Stevenson or Kovalev and so forth."
"Maybe will do a Pascal-Kovalev fight, because we have a lot of good light heavyweights at home," said Michel, before Kovalv's triumph over Sillakh. "If he beats Pascal, which I doubt, because I think that Pascal is better than him, then Adonis wants to fight him. So, then, we’ll see in the mix what can be.”
Meanwhile, Michel calls Pascal-Bute "the biggest fight that I have ever been involved in, for sure.
"It is the biggest fight ever and I can say that, absolutely," said Michel. "With all of the media requests, and the ticket requests and the way that people are talking about it. It's the talk of the town, and we're getting more publicity than everything that is happening this week."
In his last fight, in September, Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KOs) came up with a fifth-round knockout of George Blades in a 180-pound catchweight bout, having previously been in action for a unanimous-decision over Aleksy Kuziemski.
Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over previously unbeaten light heavyweight Denis Grachev, which followed a fifth-round knockout loss to Carl Froch that cost him his IBF 168-pound belt in May of 2012. A subsequent injury to Bute’s left hand forced the postponement of the Pascal bout.
Perez is coming off a November's 10-round unanimous decision that left Magomed “Mago” Abdusalamov in a medically induced coma, although Abdusalamov has since come out of it and began rehabilitation last month at the Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y.
Perez (20-0, 12 KOs) will be donating a portion of his purse to Abdusalamov’s family and will honor him in the ring by having “Mago’s” name stitched on his trunks.
Takam (28-1, 22 KOs) is a native of Cameroon who is fighting out of Noisy-le-Grand, France. A 2004 Olympian who represented France, Takam has stopped three of his past four opponents, including former title challengers Frans Botha in the 11th round and Michael Grant in the eighth in March of 2012 and in May, respectively.
Takam has won 10 straight fights, eight of them by knockout since falling by unanimous decision to Gregory Tony in June of 2009. Perez stopped Tony in the first round in May of 2011.
In an un-televised bout on the Pascal-Bute card, Colombian light heavyweight standout Eleider Alvarez (13-0, 8 KOs) will meet Andrew Gardiner (10-0, 6 KOs), who has replaced injured super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13 KOs) was injured during a motorcycle accident . Alvarez and Gardiner will meet at a contracted weight of 178 pounds.
Also on the Pascal-Bute undercard, welterweight Mikael Zewski (22-0, 17 KOs) will meet Krzysztof Szot (18-9-1, 5 KOs), junior welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr. will make his professional debut against unior Evaggelos Tsirimokos (6-3, 1 KO), and junior middleweight Sebastien Bouchard (8-0, 2 KOs) will meet Giuseppe Lauri (53-16, 31 KOs), according to a press release from HBO.