Canadian promoter Yvon Michel's purse bid has been ratified by the WBC as the winner for the right to promote the light heavyweight world championship fight between Adonis Stevenson and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Michel, who promotes longtime champion Stevenson, bid $2.101 million for the promotional rights at the purse bid Monday in Manhattan to finish second behind a TGB Promotions' bid of $3.102 million and ahead of a bid of $1.675 million made by Top Rank, which promotes Gvozdyk, the interim titlist.
However, in a highly unusual move, TGB Promotions immediately withdrew its bid, drawing the ire of the WBC and Top Rank, which suspected Michel and TGB Promotions' Tom Brown had colluded because it believed the bids would have been determined by Al Haymon, Stevenson's powerful adviser who dictates Stevenson's career.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and vice president Carl Moretti, who represented Top Rank at the purse bid, believed that Brown and Michel knew what each was bidding and that once they finished 1-2 to beat the Top Rank bid, TGB Promotions defaulted so Michel's lower bid would win the rights to the fight, meaning much less money for Gvozdyk.
However, Michel strongly denied any collusion. After looking into it over the past few days, the WBC agreed to let Michel's bid stand as the winner while planning to punish TGB Promotions for its actions. Michel said he planned to put the fight on Nov. 3 in Quebec City.
Stevenson is entitled to 65 percent ($1,229,085) and Gvozdyk will get 35 percent ($661,815) of what is left after $210,100 -- 10 percent of Michel's bid -- comes off the top. That money will go as a bonus to the winner of the fight.
Michel told ESPN on Thursday that Bob Yalen, the WBC supervisor of the purse bid, called him and Arum to confirm that Michel had done nothing wrong related to the purse bid, and to confirm that his bid would stand as the winner.
"[Yalen] did add the WBC will tighten up its rules regarding a bid," Michel said. "Top Rank reiterated their commitment to give us a close collaboration in every aspect of the organization of the fight."
Arum said Thursday that he now believed Michel did nothing wrong and that he supported the WBC ruling.
"We lobbied for that result because I think that was the only fair thing," Arum said. "Carl believed Yvon was taken by surprise by the other bid and Yvon outbid us, so he's entitled to do the fight.
"My view of the ruling is, I support it completely and I advocated for it. But I would like the WBC to tighten up the rules to the extent that they exact a punishment from somebody like Haymon or Brown who did what they did -- to put a bid in and then immediately withdraw it. I realize you can't make the penalty retroactive but certainly going forward they can do something to prevent this from happening."
Arum said he would like see the WBC require any promoter bidding on a fight to have to submit a check for 10 percent of the bid total along with the bid. If the winner withdraws the bid, Arum said he would like to see the 10 percent be divided between the fighters in proportion to what the split of the winning bid was scheduled to be.
"I told Yvon that we would be as cooperative and supportive to him as we could," Arum said. "I told Yvon that if he had any problem with Showtime (which puts on Haymon's major fights) buying the fight that I would arrange for ESPN to buy the fight."
Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs), 40, of Montreal, will be making his 10th defense following a majority draw with former titlist Badou Jack on May 19 in Toronto. Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs), 31, of Ukraine, claimed the vacant interim belt -- and the mandatory position -- by outpointing France's Mehdi Amar on March 17 in New York.