Kovalev promoter sues as fight falls through

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a nickname for his manager Al Haymon — “The Ghost.”

Kathy Duva has a few names she would like to associate with Haymon. But she’ll save them for if she sees him in court.

Duva, whose company, Main Events, promotes light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, is suing Haymon, Adonis Stevenson promoter Yvon Michel, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and Showtime, claiming they sabotaged a deal to have Kovalev fight Stevenson on HBO this spring.

Haymon is an adviser to Stevenson. Michel, who promotes Stevenson, claims he never signed a contract with Duva and negotiated a fight for May 24, when Stevenson will face Andrezj Fonfara on Showtime. If Stevenson wins, the plan is for him fight Bernard Hopkins, who is promoted by Golden Boy, on Showtime.

Duva is seeking millions in damages after filing the lawsuit Tuesday, claiming breach of contract, fraud and tortious interference, among other things.

Duva said she thinks Haymon is a promoter and manager, which would put him in violation of federal law, specifically the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Act,” which is intended to protect fighters from those serving in a dual capacity as promoter and manager.

“I’m not trying to save boxing,” Duva said. “I’m trying to save my business and my fighter. When one person monopolizes the sport, it’s not good for boxing.”

Duva said she didn’t want to go to court, but realized she had little choice when it became obvious the situation wouldn’t be resolved.

“It’s never what you want,” she said. “We tried to resolve it. But when someone tries to crush you, you have to protect yourself. That’s what the courts are for.”

Haymon does not give interviews and usually stays in the background of the many fighters he manages, including Mayweather, thus the “Ghost” nickname. But Duva said Haymon will have to speak when he’s deposed by her lawyer, Pat English, who filed the suit in her behalf in U.S. District Court.

“Having a ringside seat for (Haymon’s) deposition would be interesting,” Duva said.

Schaefer said he was aware of Duva’s legal action but wasn’t sure why he was included.

“I don’t promote Stevenson,” he said. “But desperate people do desperate things, I guess. I’ll just let my lawyers handle it.”

■ WARD LOSES AGAIN — Andre Ward’s attempt to free himself from his promoter, Dan Goossen, was denied last week for the second time by the California State Athletic Commission.

Ward, the World Boxing Association super middleweight champion who is considered the sport’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter behind Mayweather, is tied to Goossen through November 2016, according to Andy Foster, the commission’s executive officer. Ward tried to leave Goossen in 2013, only to have an arbitrator rule in Goossen’s favor.

“It’s now time to sit down with Andre and his advisers and put these legal disputes behind us and concentrate on getting Andre back to fighting consistently inside the ring,” Goossen said. “Andre and I have had success together, and there’s no reason not to get back on track as a team to secure his status as the top fighter in the world behind Floyd Mayweather.”

Ward (27-0, 13 knockouts) last fought in November.

■ TROPICANA CARD — The next professional boxing show in Las Vegas will be May 31 at the Tropicana in a card co-promoted by Sampson Boxing and DiBella Entertainment that will be televised by HBO2 and HBO Latino.

In the 10-round main event, super featherweight Javier Fortuna (24-0-1, 18 KOs) faces Juan Antonio Rodriguez (26-4, 23 KOs). The co-feature is a 10-round super bantamweight bout between Luis Rosa (16-0, seven KOs) and Luis Orlando Del Valle (18-1, 13 KOs).

Also on the card is Las Vegas’ Melinda Cooper, who will be in an eight-round female super featherweight bout against an opponent to be determined.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.