Once HBO declined to match Showtime’s offer to light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson for a May 24 defense against Andrzej Fonfara, HBO was left with a hole in its schedule.
Although HBO will not have Stevenson that night, the network still plans to put on a card, multiple people from the network told me while I was at the Sergey Kovalev-Cedric Agnew fight on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.
The network even knows what it wants to put on: A doubleheader involving the heavyweight elimination bout between Bryant Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs) and Mike Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), both of whom have already had good performances on HBO, and a junior middleweight bout between slugger James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) and Willie Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KOs).
Jennings-Perez was recently ordered by one of the alphabet organizations as a title eliminator and both fighters' camps want the bout. Kirkland-Nelson was originally ticketed for an April 26 HBO card headlined by middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin against Andy Lee, but the show was canceled when Golovkin withdrew following the death of his father.
But although HBO said it had designs on that show, it has apparently not given the green light to the promoters to finalize things from what I was told by somebody else involved in the card. That means time is running out to secure a site, particularly on somewhat short notice and on a holiday weekend -- as the fight would be on Memorial Day weekend.
It would also be nice to lock it down as soon as possible so the fighters can train properly and secure their advances to pay for training camps, which cost money.
As an aside, HBO stunningly is considering Kirkland-Nelson as the main event, which I find bizarre, given that the heavyweight fight is, well, a heavyweight fight between unbeaten rising contenders, a much more interesting match in my view and also one with a lot more at stake -- a shot at a heavyweight title -- than the other bout.