Adonis Stevenson said he stands to pocket more cash for defending his RING and WBC light heavyweight championships against Andrzej Fonfara on May 24 than he was offered to face unbeaten WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev.
A 36-year-old southpaw, Stevenson (23-1, 20 knockouts) cited "a better offer" from Showtime than HBO, which opted not to renegotiate its deal with him. As a result, Stevenson moved his scheduled May 24 defense against Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs) to Showtime.
For now, the move has scuttled plans for a highly-anticipated clash between Stevenson and Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), who scored three knockdowns during Saturday night's seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Cedric Agnew on Showtime's rival, HBO.
"I am going to make more money fighting Fonfara than HBO was going to give me to fight Kovalev," said Stevenson during a Sunday telephone call to RingTV.com. "That makes no sense that I can make more money fighting Fonfara than I was going to make fighting Kovalev in a unification fight."
Although Stevenson would not discuss the amount of his purse for facing Fonfara, his promoter, Yvon Michel characterized the amount was a career-high payday for the Haitian-born, Canadian fighter, according to BoxingScene.com.
Stevenson "will make the highest purse of his career with Fonfara, by far…against Fonfara, he's going to make more than twice than what he made for his last fight," said Michel. "His highest paid fight [on HBO] was against [Tony] Bellew. He is going to generate more than twice of that…Adonis' purse will be twice as big as his purse was against Bellew."
Showtime already is the home of Golden Boy Promotions' 175-pound counterparts Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov, who will put their respective IBF and WBA belts on the line against each other on April 19.
In February, Stevenson signed with powerful advisor Al Haymon, most of whose fighters are promoted by Golden Boy and fight on the Showtime network.
Given HBO has severed ties with Golden Boy and Hopkins has expressed the desire to face Stevenson, that could well be in the cards, should the former undisputed middleweight champion beat Shumenov.
"Ask HBO, 'Can they show me the money?' That's the problem with the Kovalev fight," said Stevenson. "It's about the money. Don't you think that it's a pay-per-view fight between me and Kovalev? I think they need to pay for that."
Stevenson is 13-1, with 13 knockouts in his past 14 fights, and has stopped 10 consecutive opponents since being stopped by Darnell Boone in April 2010.
Stevenson went 4-0 over the course of 2013, in succession, with knockouts of Boone, Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew in the sixth, first, seventh and sixth rounds, respectively. Stevenson's victories over Dawson, Cloud and Bellew were all televised by HBO.
"I like HBO and they supported me and they helped me to get 'Fighter of The Year 2013,'" said Stevenson, "but at the end of the day, it's business and it's time to get paid and Showtime gave me more money."
Prior to facing Agnew, Kovalev, who turns 31 on April 2, had last fought in November, earning a second-round knockout over Ismayl Sillakh.
"With me and Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov on Showtime, now what is Kovalev going to do? Kovalev should fight Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud or Jean Pascal," said Stevenson, whose fight with Dawson lasted 76 seconds.
"I beat Tavoris Cloud and Chad Dawson. Pascal beat Dawson. Dawson beat Hopkins and then it was something like 8-to-1 that I wouldn't beat Dawson and I knocked him out in the first round. So if Kovalev can go and beat one of those guys, I think that then, we can talk. I'm fighting for the Benjamin Franklins."