|Knockouts sell, even on free TV|
The result was an end to Stevenson's time on HBO, a "defection" to rival cable network Showtime, and an indefinite dissolution of Stevenson vs. Kovalev. After Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, there might not be a bigger fight in all of boxing that fans want to see more than Superman vs. Krusher. It has to happen for the good of the sport and Stevenson has reportedly stated that he is willing to fight Kovalev and that the highly anticipated fight will happen eventually. Until then, boxing is left with the two best light heavyweights in the world facing anyone and everyone but each other. If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because Mayweather and Pacquiao did more or less the same dance at welterweight, fighting inferior competition, before finally signing to a long overdue Superfight scheduled for May 2. To his credit, Kovalev has racked up recent wins against Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal but now faces the reality of boxing politics in the form of a mandatory ABC title defense against unranked, unheralded Nadjib Mohammedi. That's exactly the kind of name recognition that Stevenson was in the ring with twice last year against Andrzej Fonfara and Dmitry Sukhotskiy.
|Kovalev against Stevenson is what fans want|
After drawing huge ratings for PBC's debut on NBC earlier this month, Haymon's PBC banner is now expanding and debuting again, this time on CBS, April 4, when Stevenson, 25-1, 21 KO's, puts his lineal light heavyweight championship on the line, for the fifth time, against Australian Sakio Bika, 32-6-3, 21 KO's, a former super middleweight belt holder and a notoriously dirty fighter. Fan and media reaction to the free match-up on CBS has been critical to put it mildly. For one thing, Bika has never fought at light heavyweight, and for another, he's coming off a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of WBC 168 lb. champ Anthony Dirrell. Interestingly, Stevenson himself came up from super middleweight and won the 175 lb. title in his light heavyweight debut.
Stevenson is nonetheless focused on the task at hand and claims to be free of distraction. "Bika is in my face right now. I don't see Kovalev or anybody else in my face," said Stevenson on a March 25 media conference call to promote the Bika bout. Despite the best efforts of reporters to get in Stevenson's face about a future Kovalev bout, Stevenson stuck to the carefully scripted, Haymon approved, talking points and didn't let his emotions get the best of him, saying to those who dared ask, "I don't think about Kovalev. I do want to unify the light heavyweight title but that's after Bika. My focus now is on this guy."
|The Scorpion believes in himself even if nobody else does|
Feeling disrespected that the media is hyper-focused on Stevenson and Kovalev and not his chances to pull off the upset, Bika himself is fired up for the test. "I've been in this business a long time. I have fought the best in the world. Nobody is giving me any respect! Can I handle the big boy? Can I handle Adonis at light heavyweight? It's a big challenge but I'm sure I can. I'm very sure I'll take care of my business and win the WBC title. On April 4, you will see."
Stevenson then offered a final reminder for Bika and for Kovalev: "I'm the man at light heavyweight. I'm the Superman!"