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Shakur Stevenson Management Team Petitions WBC To Fight Haney, Proceed To Base Their Arguments On Money Rather Than Merit

Shakur Stevenson's Team Petitions WBC To Fight Haney, Proceed To Base Their Arguments On Money Rather Than Merit featured image
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 20: Shakur Stevenson and James Prince pose ahead of Fight Night between Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez for the WBC super featherweight title at the MGM at the MGM Grand Conference Center on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Shakur Stevenson and his team now seem more determined than ever to fight Devin Haney for all his titles after they petitioned the WBC for Stevenson to face Haney. Stevenson is currently the WBC mandatory challenger of the lightweight division after he defeated Shuichiro Yoshino back in April. Following alleged attempts by Stevenson’s team to negotiate a fight with Devin Haney, the team has now decided to make use of the mandatory position that Stevenson had rightfully won a few months prior.

BoxingScene reported that Shakur Stevenson’s (20-0, 10 KO’s) team had initiated contact with the WBC so a fight with undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney (30-0, 15 O’s) could be arranged. Josh Dubin, co-manager of Shakur Stevenson alongside well-know music executive James Prince, claims they had been negotiating with Haney over the past couple of weeks but to no avail as Stevenson rejected the 75/25 offer that was sent.

While we have tried for the last several weeks to negotiate a bout with Mr. Haney on Mr. Stevenson’s behalf, we have not made much progress.” Dubin stated in an official letter to the WBC.

Therefore, we respectfully ask that the WBC officially order the bout pursuant to Rule 2.8 so that the “Free Negotiations Period” can begin. I am confident that once the thirty (30) day negotiation deadline is set, we will make more headway.  In the event we cannot reach an agreement, Mr. Stevenson intends to enforce his mandatory position through the purse bid process.

In what is perhaps too long of a letter to cover, Dubin’s letter goes on to list Shakur Stevenson’s accomplishments all while highlighting Devin Haney’s earnings. The reason might be so a higher split can be arranged than the original 75/25 percentage offer that was included in Devin Haney’s contract to Shakur Stevenson.

Dubin seems to have wanted to vent some of his client’s frustrations in the letter to the WBC by expanding on what both Stevenson and Haney earned. As sanctioning bodies can decide on the percentage split of each fighter, Stevenson’s manager clearly sought to influence the WBC’s decision making on the split by arguing how profitable Shakur’s past couple fights have been compared to Devin Haney’s.

Both Dubin and Prince, Stevenson’s managers, seem to value their fighter’s earnings over his credentials, and though Stevenson is likely considered the next best contender in the division after Gervonta Davis, their concern seems to revolve around how much Stevenson can earn rather on how he will perform in the ring.

It is important to note that all matters of financials will be handed during the obligatory negotiation period of 30 days that follows once the WBC orders the fight. Managers or promoters are therefore not required to list their boxer’s profit margins when petitioning for a mandatory fight, as it is the negotiation period that governs over these matters.

Shakur Stevenson has consistently drawn among the best ratings on linear television of any professional boxer in the sport,” Dubin continues on in his letter.

“For instance, when Mr. Stevenson fought Oscar Valdez on April 30, 2022, he drew 1,166,000 million viewers on ESPN.  Moreover, even against lesser-known opponents, he has, in every instance, drawn a higher television rating than Mr. Haney.  By way of example, when Mr. Stevenson fought Robson Conceicao (a virtually unknown boxer from Brazil) on September 23, 2022, he drew an average of 1,076,000 viewers.

Again, a petition for a mandatory challenger to face a champion usually does not revolve around how much a boxer has earned, but moreso on who they fought and what they accomplished. It is also a mere formality, as the mandatory challenger already has the status needed to face the champion, and only needs to set forth his intent to face the champion; usually through a letter.

By painting a former opponent of Stevenson, Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KO’s), as virtually unknown, it only serves the opposite of what a petition is supposed to do which is to convince the sanctioning body to order the fight. Conceicao is also not as unknown as Stevenson’s team has claimed, as he is known as the first Brazilian boxer to ever win Olympic gold during the 2016 Olympics. Usually, the names of Olympic gold medalists carry weight in professional boxing; even years after their Olympic medal wins.

Financial considerations are usually discussed between the fighter’s management, the promoter, and the sanctioning body separately from the formal petition. It is a clear sign that Stevenson’s management team has no real knowledge on how business is conducted in boxing, or perhaps a sign of how much their financial motive drives them to do their job.

There are also question marks surrounding these apparent negotiations that were held between Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney in the past few weeks. Though obviously the public is not privy to these type of talks, there has been no mention from Bob Arum (Stevenson’s promoter) or any of Haney’s team surrounding these negotiations, and no media outlet has reported Haney and Shakur to be in negotiations.

In case of big fights such as this, it would have been reported several times of both fighters’ teams being in negotiations. When Vasyl Lomachenko’s (17-3, 11 KO’s) team was in discussion with Devin Haney’s team for a fight (that eventually occurred in May), the negotiations were already publicly known as is almost always the case. In this one rare instance, it is to be belived that Devin Haney’s and Shakur Stevenson’s were in negotiations this entire time for weeks.

Given that Stevenson’s management team went out of their way to use Haney’s own earnings and viewership against him in a petition that didn’t require as such, there are multiple ways in how to interpret how their negotiations went (if they actually occurred).

With Haney apparently in talks to face Regis Prograis, there are further questions as to why it took Stevenson’s team so long to petition the WBC as Haney had been rumored to face Prograis since June. All matters regarding finances would be addressed after the WBC would approve of Stevenson fighting Haney, and a petition would have been not only the quickest manner to resolve these issues but the most effective as both parties would be forced to negotiate with each other and expected to negotiate in good faith. It would also be the best scenario for Stevenson to land a higher split of percentages.