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Don't Duva Me Like That: Promoter Kathy Duva Puts Al Haymon On Blast

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Kathy Duva quite likely would have been in a much different mood on Tuesday afternoon, during a mini presser at the Croton Reservoir Tavern on W. 40th St., if Adonis Stevenson hadn't gone and sent the best laid plans of Main Events and HBO and his own promoter awry.

Stevenson, the Haitian-born Canadian, did something a whole lot of pugilists have been doing lately, and signed on with Team Al Haymon on Feb. 18. If he had went with the flow which was funneling towards a showdown with Sergey Kovalev, in the most intriguing light heavy matchup in many moons in September, then Duva's face and voice wouldn't have featured twinges of ire, as they did when she relayed her disappointing day.

But the 36-year-old Stevenson decided, or was helped to decide and then signed off on a completely different plan than what Duva told me she'd hashed out, along with HBO, and Yvon Michel, the promoter for Stevenson.

“We had a deal done two months ago,” Duva revealed. She said that on Jan. 23, she and Team Kovalev and then Michel decided on mutually agreeable terms which would net a Sergey-Adonis showdown. Michel was on board, and all assumed that Adonis was in the fold.

The next day, Jan. 24, Duva continued, Michel and HBO matchmaker/exec Peter Nelson agreed to terms, which included fights beyond the interim one, and the biggie, for both boxers. Michel told Duva his lawyer would type up a contract, and then send it over. She's still waiting, she said. At first, when no contract with specifics requested from the Stevenson/Michel side arrived, she didn't get worried.

“The foot dragging, I'm used to it,” she said. “We had a deal. We exchanged emails.”

And then they didn't…

Stevenson hurled a drop-off-the-table curveball, hooking up with uber advisor Haymon, and suddenly, the two fight plan of attack was in flux. Now, the early fall faceoff between the two men who'd been on a parallel track, who'd fought on the same card last November, to help whet fans' appetites, get them savoring the prospect of this clash of 175 pound titans was not on the to do list. Instead, as it stands today, Stevenson is aligned with Haymon, and is a Showtime fighter.

Yes, the Cold War trenches have been dug deeper, with Duva aiming icy barbs at Haymon, who she said is well known for keeping fight fans from seeing the events they crave. “He's the man best known for making sure the public doesn't get to see the fights they want,” she told me. “It's true, isn't it? Ask Mayweather and Pacquiao.”

So, is the prospect of a Kovalev-Stevenson fight dead? “Not this year,” she said. “But Adonis is running. He's running.” Her ice storm dropped some pellets on Showtime, which she said features stars built by HBO.

Duva said that if she chose to bring this matter to a courtroom, she is confident she'd prevail, she'd be able to convince an arbiter that a contract, of sorts, had been fashioned, mostly via email exchanges, with the pertinent principals.

“My husband (the late promoter Dan Duva) used to say, 'Contracts don't fight, fighters do,'' she stated, indicating that her likely reaction will be to push to elevate Kovalev, without indulging in lawyer-centered undercard action. “We're going to let HBO build Sergey into a star, as they've done countless times, since they started in boxing…In the light heavyweight division, he is the best fighter in the world.”

Two weeks ago, IBF champ Bernard Hopkins was in NYC, talking up his April 19 clash in DC, against Beibut Shumenov, who holds the WBA crown at 175. Hopkins made it clear he was angling toward a fall clash with WBC champ Adonis, who'd just announced his allegiance to Haymon. WBO champ Kovalev and company still held out hope that the parallel path of him and Adonis hadn't been altered since then, and, in fact, it was only today when an HBO boxing person told me that HBO had decided they weren't going to pursue a May 24 Stevenson bout against Andrezj Fonfara, which was on their docket. That decision to blow off that May pairing came, I was told, when Adonis' new representation wanted to tweak terms ie money already agreed to by the old team Adonis.

Now, with Haymon calling shots, Stevenson was asking for “a significant increase” to his purse to fight Fonfara. Not only that, but there was no longer a package deal, for a Fonfara fight, and then a match with Kovalev, on the table. That indicated to HBO, the source said, that Stevenson wanted to jet. The HBO source too said they weren't closing the door on a Kovalev-Stevenson fight, it must be noted. “We're happy to discuss it for the fall,” I was told. Bottom line, according to the HBO source: “We had a deal. It changed. It is not the way we do it.”

I requested a comment from Al Haymon, who takes press queries about as often as I get haircuts, through an emissary, and hadn't heard back at posting time.

I also emailed Yvon Michel, to get his side of the story, and a response to the assertion that a deal had been hashed out, and then rescinded, but also hadn't heard back at time of posting.

Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza did return a request for comment. He said that indeed, Stevenson, whose talents he said he's admired for several years, would be fighting Fonfara, on Showtime, in May. “When we heard that Adonis had no deal in place (with HBO), that he was available, wasn't locked up, we made an offer for his next fight,” he said. HBO, it was his understanding, he said, had the right to match those terms, and declined. Espinoza said Adonis had been slated to fight on the Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud undercard, on an August 2012 promotion which got scrapped because of a Pascal injury. “This opportunity came, and we jumped at the chance,” he said, of the May 24 Adonis-Fonfara clash, slated for the Bell Centre in Montreal. “The Hopkins vs. Adonis fight is a natural for both, they're both interested, but both have business to deal with first, so it's a little premature to delve into that.”

Duva clearly isn't enthralled by the pairing. Hopkins, she said, breathing down on age 50, is going to be “irrelevant” in the next year or two. She's betting that Kovalev won't much miss a beat, that HBO will do their thing, and craft compelling scraps for him, raising his profile to an exalted space. “Sergey is going to become that with or without Adonis, who is what, 38?”

Much or all of the motivation for this move by Adonis, she thinks, is because he is avoiding a clash with the the 30-year-old Russian. She thinks that Adonis might not even come out better financially, because she can't see Hopkins taking a smaller slice of the pie, even if Adonis and Bernard fight in Montreal, where Adonis will fill the room, whereas Kovalev would have made a concession to Adonis' ability to put arses in seats.

“Hopkins won't take the short end,” Duva opined. “Also, I think Adonis is scared to death of Kovalev. And the fans are getting screwed. And Al Haymon owns that.”

She said she was reserving the option to pursue a legal route to dealing with the screwed up Kovalev-Stevenson formulation, because, she said, “We exchanged writing, and that's a contract. Bottom line, Adonis Stevenson was scared to make a deal to fight Sergey…as well he should be.”

Oh yeah, Cedric Agnew was in the room, game face on, while this matter was being discussed and Duva was venting. The Chicago-born hitter, training in Houston, was hard to hear when he was talking about his confidence going into the Saturday clash, which will unfold in Atlantic City, and on HBO. I tried to read his brain, wondering if his chill 'tude indicated he might be a little tight. Duva said that she thinks Agnew, who owns a 26-0 mark (13 KOs) against B- level foes, and under, is coming to mess up Kovalev's path as much as Stevenson did.

Duva, on an up note, said that tix are moving well, a testament to Kovalev's burgeoning fan-base, which had her breathing a sigh of relief, considering we're heading into Final Four hoops territory, which can make ticket sales for fights sluggish. Agnew did pass, I think, a test I often pose to an underdog, when I asked him if he was sure he'd beat Kovalev. “Yeah,” he said, not in the most forceful of fashions.

“No doubt?” I pressed.

“No doubt” he would, he said, more firmly.

Duva apologized well into the Q n A, for getting off track, into the Stevenson/Haymon affair, after Team Agnew advisor Bill Benton made it clear that people in that room, mostly press, weren't seeing his kid as a viable foe. He handled ex heavyweight contender Ike Ibeabuchi many moons ago, he said, and writers who hadn't done their homework before Ike fought David Tua had to hustle to get in the know after he got the better of Tua. “After the fight, they knew who he was,” Benton said, making clear we'd have to get up to speed on Agnew Saturday night. “Everybody's overlooking him, God I hope so.”

His son Bobby Benton, at 35 one of the most baby-faced trainers you'll see holding a bucket, helped in the Austin Trout corner when he beat Miguel Cotto two years ago, and he said he'll be on the winning side in AC, too. He said the chill Agnew, who actually broke into a couple of grins when I split him off, and chatted with him, the Benton and promoter Malcom Garrett, has a nasty side, and can show it in the ring. Bill Benton, in the game since 1977, compared him to Matthew Saad Muhammad, and said if the judges are on point, “and we get a fair shake, he'll have his hand raised Saturday. His speed is unbelievable.”

But the Cold Warring, with Duva not being shy about Haymon presence being a net detriment to the sport, dominated this event. Sure, Kovalev had a happy face on, considering he was exulting in the multi-fight deal he'd inked with HBO that day. But the mood in that room was set, I venture to say, by Duva, who was mad as hell, and not shying away from saying why. Haymon's wide angle sphere of influence was now going to result in a must-see bout being yanked away from the fans, she said, and she wondered why some of the bigger name boxing writers weren't examining those chips falling the way they had been of late, and noting a tectonic shift in the way business was being conducted by people who'd she'd regarded as business contemporaries, but now seemed to have been relegated into the bitter adversary zone.

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David Avanesyan: “My Aggressive Style is Going to Give Crawford Problems”

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With determination and total confidence in his abilities, Russian David Avanesyan rejects the idea that he will be the “ugly duckling” when he faces Terence Crawford who will be defending his WBO welterweight title for the sixth time this December 10th.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for my family and me, one I will not take for granted,” Avanesyan said. “I know going in that I’m a huge underdog and no one is giving me a chance, but let me tell you, I’m going to surprise everyone watching. I’ve had enough time to prepare, so I’ll be ready for the southpaw.”

Thirty-four-year-old Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17 KOs) was born in Russia but resides in England, where he has been preparing for the momentous matchup against Crawford.

European champion in the welterweight division, Avanesyan has won six straight, all within the distance; the most recent being in the first round against Finnish Oskari Metz (16-1, 6 KOs) in London.

Ranked sixth by the WBO and seventh by the IBF, Avanesyan says he has learned many tricks over the years and is now a completely different and more mature boxer.

“Coming from the amateur ranks, I had to learn how to sit on my punches correctly, which can take a lifetime for some fighters. The bad habits that plagued me early in my career are now fixed. Today I’m a completely different fighter in the ring, and my last six fights have shown my growth when it comes to my power punching. I believe my aggressive style is going to give Crawford problems,” said Avanesyan.

Prior to his six-fight winning streak, Avanesyan was knocked out in the eighth round by California-based Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the city of Reno, Nevada where they fought for the NABF belt.

Avanesyan is not misguided as he assesses the enormous task ahead. “There’s a reason Terence Crawford is considered the best fighter in boxing, his skill set is amazing, and he knows how to win,” stated Avanesyan. “I know my hands are full, but I’m going to do everything I can to become a world champion. I need to stick to the game plan we have in place, and if adjustments need to be made during the fight, I will have to make them.”

Although Avanesyan logically praises Crawford’s career, the match-up has created a sea of ​​criticism for the undefeated Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), who is ranked among the best pound for pound fighters. The vast majority of fans wanted to see him face his countryman, the undefeated Errol Spence Jr (28-0, 22 KOs), the current title holder of the other three most prestigious belts: the WBC, WBA and IBF.

But the thirty-five-year-old Crawford from Omaha, Nebraska says that regardless of his results and whatever adversary he faces, he will continue to be blamed by the people who just don’t like him.

“Before, I always cared a lot about what the fans say and say about me,” stated Crawford. “But the older I got, the more I came to the fact that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, no matter who you beat and how many fights you won, how many divisions you conquered, there will still be those who will not love you for their own reasons. It seems to me that all the great fighters went through this. All the greats who were before me, and all those who will be after me, it will be the same with everyone.”

In his brilliant professional career, Crawford has been world champion in three divisions: lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight.

Six years after his professional boxing debut, Crawford claimed the WBO 135-pound world title by unanimously defeating host Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland.

Thirteen months later, Crawford added the vacant WBO 140-pound title by anesthetizing Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round. Dulorme could not endure Crawford’s powerful punch and visited the canvas three times in the fateful sixth round.

Crawford became the undisputed king of the super lightweight division in August 2017, when he chloroformed Namibian Julius Indongo in Lincoln, Nebraska. The African lost the WBA and IBF belts, while Crawford retained the WBC and WBO belts.

In June 2018, Crawford conquered the WBO welterweight belt after putting Australian Jeff Horn (20-3-1, 13 KOs) to sleep in the ninth round at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.

Thanks to his blazing hand speed, ring savvy, counterpunching skills, as well as his ability to switch from right guard to left guard and back again, Crawford is considered a heavy favorite to take down Avanesyan.

*Note: As of December 2nd:  Crawford  -1600 / Avanesyan  +780

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Juan Francisco Estrada Holds Off ‘Chocolatito’ Again

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Once again Juan Francisco Estrada jumped out in front early and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez needed time to crank up the engine, but fell too far behind as the Mexican fighter won the vacant WBC flyweight world title on Saturday.

Estrada wins the trilogy 10 years in the making.

Once again Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) surged ahead early in the fight against Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs) and then navigated toward another win, this time at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on the Matchroom Boxing card.

“We had excellent preparation at high altitude and I think we left the fight clear on who won the fight this time,” said Estrada about the third encounter.

Ten years ago, the trilogy began in Los Angeles as “Chocolatito” confronted an unknown fighter at the time in Estrada. The two surprised the crowd who expected Gonzalez to destroy yet another Mexican fighter. But it did not happen that night though Chocolatito proved too experienced and battered his way to victory in a light flyweight world title clash.

Then, in March 2021, Estrada finally fought Gonzalez in a rematch and the two engaged in a closely-fought super flyweight world title match. This time Estrada proved slightly better according to the judges and won by split decision in Dallas, Texas.

Few knew what to expect in a third encounter.

At first the coronavirus stalled plans for the trifecta so Chocolatito fought a replacement and dominated. Meanwhile Estrada fought another Mexican and did not look good.

On Saturday, a decade after their first encounter, Estrada looked fluid and accurate in dominating the first six rounds of the fight. Though he did not hurt Gonzalez, he was repeatedly scoring at will.

Gonzalez woke up around the seventh round.

Suddenly the Nicaraguan who was once considered the best fighter Pound for Pound showed up and fired rapid combinations. The spring in his legs suddenly appeared and the energy level was cranked up high after nearly being on idle.

Estrada suddenly found himself against the ropes forced to slip and slide away from Gonzalez’s powerful combination punches. A real fight suddenly erupted during the final six rounds.

“All fights are different and all fights are difficult and this was the most difficult one,” said Gonzalez, a four-division world champion.

Though neither fighter was ever visibly hurt, Gonzalez’s pressure kept Estrada expending too much energy trying to evade the Nicaraguan’s traps during the final six rounds.

“He always goes 100 miles an hour,” said Estrada of his nemesis.

Estrada used uppercuts and slide steps to maneuver against Gonzalez’s hard charges. It seemed to work and allowed the Mexican fighter more room and time to apply counter-measures.

In the final round, those maneuvers allowed Estrada to connect with a hard punch to the body that forced Chocolatito to cover up. It also allowed Estrada to unravel a combination that gave him the last round if needed. After 12 rounds one judge scored it 114-114, while two others saw it 116-112, 115-113 for Estrada who becomes the new WBC super flyweight world titlist.

“We did an excellent fight and I got the victory,” said Estrada. “I’ve always said Chocolatito is a future Hall of Famer.”

Gonzalez was gracious in defeat.

“What is important is we gave that good fight to the fans and we came out in good health,” Gonzalez said.

There is even talk of a fourth fight.

“As long as they pay well, of course,” said Gonzalez.

Other Fights

Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14 KOs) retained the WBC flyweight world title by majority decision over Spain’s Samuel Carmona (8-1) in a rather dull affair. Mexico’s Martinez chased Carmon all 12 rounds in a fight that saw Carmona slap and run, then hold.

No knockdowns were scored and Martinez won 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.

Diego Pacheco (17-0, 14 KOs) ran over Mexico’s Adrian Luna (24-9-2) with three knockdowns in winning by stoppage in the second round of the super middleweight fight. It was no surprise.

The 21-year-old from South Central L.A. once again showed that despite his youth his power seems to be continually increasing as evident in the knockout win.

Now training with Team David Benavidez, the young super middleweight looked sharp, especially with the lead overhand right that floored Luna in the second round. Luna was floored two more times and the fight was wisely stopped by his own corner.

“You put in the hard work then you come in here and shine,” said Pacheco. “I joined team Benavidez this year.”

Nicaragua’s former world titlist Cristofer Rosales (35-6, 21 KOs) won a dog fight over Mexico’s Joselito Velasquez (15-1-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a flyweight clash.

It was a back-and-forth struggle that saw the taller Rosales take over in the second half of the fight and win by simply out-punching Velasquez and handing the Mexican his first loss as a professional by scores 97-93 three times.

Photo credit: Milena Pizano

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Tyson Fury TKOs Derek Chisora in Round 10

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It was a chilly night in London but that didn’t deter a near-capacity crowd from turning out at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to witness the third rumble between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora. The Gypsy King was heavily favored to retain his WBC and lineal heavyweight title and performed as expected. Indeed, this fight closely resembled their second encounter back in 2014.

In that bout, Chisora absorbed a terrific amount of punishment before his corner pulled him out at the conclusion of the 10th round. Tonight’s fight ended nine seconds earlier at the 2:51 mark of round 10 and it was the referee who terminated the match.

When is a heavyweight not a heavyweight? When the man in the opposite corner is substantially bigger. With an 8-inch height advantage and a 15-inch reach advantage, the six-foot-nine Fury was simply too big a mountain to climb for the brave Derek Chisora, a fighter who changed his nickname in mid-career, transitioning from “Dell Boy” to “War.”

Fury dominated round two, especially the last minute, a round in which he was credited with landing 18 power punches. The writing was on the wall for Chisora who ate a lot of thudding uppercuts in the ensuing rounds and ended the contest with a badly swollen right eye and a bloody mouth. With the victory, Fury improved his ledger to 32-0-1 with his 24th win inside the distance. The Zimbabwe-born Chisora falls to 33-13.

Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce were in attendance and the Gypsy King addressed both before he left the ring. Calling Usyk “The Rabbit,” he indicated that he would fight Usyk next in a true unification fight, but said if there were a snag in negotiations he wouldn’t mind trading blows with the Juggernaut, Joe Joyce, who wore down and stopped former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker, a former Fury sparring partner, in his most recent engagement. However, Fury also revealed that he had an issue with his right elbow that may require surgery.

Co-Feature

In a heavyweight match that lasted only three rounds but was chock-full of action, Daniel Dubois overcame three knockdowns to retain his secondary WBA heavyweight title he won at the expense Trevor Bryan with a third-round stoppage of upset-minded Kevin Lerena.

In the opening stanza, Johannesburg’s Lerena, landed an overhand left on the top of Dubois’s head that put the Englishman on the canvas and left him all at sea. He went down twice more before the round was over, the first time of his own volition when he took a knee (reminiscent of his match with Joe Joyce) and the second from a glancing blow.

Dubois, whose legs are spindly for a man of his poundage, had trouble regaining his equilibrium in round two, but Lerena didn’t press his advantage. In the next frame, a short right from Dubois penetrated Lerena’s guard and down went the South African. Smelling blood, Dubois knocked him down again and was pummeling him against the ropes when the referee interceded just as it appeared that Lerena would be saved by the bell.

It was the fourth straight win for Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) since his mishap versus Joyce. Lerena, who entered the bout on a 17-fight winning streak, lost for the second time in 30 fights.

Also

In a ho-hum affair, Denis Berinchyk, a 24-year-old Ukrainian, captured the European lightweight title and remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over French-Senagalese warhorse Ivan Mendy. Berinchyk (17-0, 9 KOs) was making his first appearance in London since winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics where he was a teammate of Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

The judges had it 117-112 and 116-112 twice for the Ukrainian. The 37-year-old Mendy, who has answered the bell for 380 rounds, falls to 47-6-1.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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