Yvon Michel, the promoter for unbeaten light-heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KO’s) of GYM, has rejected an offer from Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, the promoter for light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, for a fight that she was hoping to take place in September, according to ESPN’s Dan Rafael.
On Monday, Beterbiev was ordered by the IBF to face Bernard Hopkins (55-7, 32 KO’s) in an IBF light-heavyweight title eliminator.
However, Hopkins, 50, has been out of the ring since last November when he was beaten and dominated by Kovalev and it seems unlikely that the legendary fighter would be willing to invest in a path that would get him a rematch with a victory.
Hopkins has stated his willingness to move down to the super-middleweight division for one last shot at a world title, a division that he skipped when he moved up two weight classes in 2006 to face then IBO World champion Antonio Tarver at light-heavyweight, a fight that he won convincingly.
As for the title eliminator, both sides have until Thursday to agree to the fight, but as of Wednesday – there has been no agreement from either side.
“Per Kathy Duva, Beterbiev/@yvonmichel rejected ‘very fair’ offer for Sept, Kovalev fight. Prefer to fight IBF elim rather than for three titles,” Dan Rafael said on Twitter. “Not at all surprised Beterbiev turned down Kovalev fight. But why go for IBF elimination first when u can go straight for IBF belt & two others?”
It could be an issue that comes down simply to money. Beterbiev would make more money if he were to fight in a title eliminator, win, and be Kovalev’s mandatory challenger. A voluntary challenger doesn’t make as much money.
Beterbiev has beaten Kovalev twice in the amateurs, so why take the lesser payday?
Beterbiev will now look forward to the title eliminator, where he has a choice between IBF No. 4 ranked Erik Skoglund and No. 5. Isaac Chilemba.
The Skoglund bout may or may not happen as the Swede is scheduled to defend his IBF Inter-Continental light-heavyweight title against Oleksandr Cherviak in September – however as we saw with Frankie Gavin – he can always cancel that fight to take the fight which holds greater prestige.
If not, Isaac Chilemba, the 28-year-old NABF light-heavyweight champion, is a great alternative.