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November 19, 2013

By Scott Shaffer

Legal papers filed by heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne against promoter Don King reveal that a February 2014 WBC title defense is currently being planned by Vitali Klitschko. Stiverne, the WBC's mandatory contender, is seeking emergency relief from J. Paul Oetken, a federal judge, that would stop King from interfering in the negotiations. According to Stiverne, Klitschko is considering bypassing Stiverne and going to the next-highest rated boxer because of King's intereference. That boxer would likely be Chris Arreola or Deontay Wilder, rated #2 and #3 respectively by the WBC. Because Klitschko has announced his intention to run for the presidency of the Ukrainian Republic, his boxing future was considered uncertain.

UPDATE: The court has informed Stiverne's attorneys that it will not consider his request until all of the defendants have been properly served with a full set of the legal papers.

On Novermber 1st, Stiverne, the WBC's mandatory contender and silver title holder, sued his promoter of record, Don King and Don King Productions, Inc., his co-manager of record, Carl King and Elite Sports and Entertainment, Inc. and Don King's long-time employee Dana Jamison, claiming he was forced to hire Carl King as his co-manager in violation of the Muhammad Ali Act. In the two weeks since the lawsuit was filed, Stiverne's other co-manager, Camille Estephan, says in a sworn statement that Don King has threatened to do "everything in his power to prevent Stiverne from getting any more boxing bouts whatsoever", effectively starving him out of his boxing career.

According to legal papers filed last night in New York City, "Estephan is currently in the process of working with the management team representing WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko to negotiate and sign a bout agreement between Klitschko and Stiverne. It is hoped and expected that both heavyweight boxers will be ready for their bout inapproximately 15 weeks, in February, 2014. The bout is expected to occur in Las Vegas, Dubai, or another major world boxing venue.

According to Stiverne's attorneys, an emergency court order preventing Don and Carl King and Jamison from interfering with the negotiations is needed because, "without this requested relief, King is very likely to interfere in the fight and Stiverne will be unable to contend for the WBC heavyweight belt... Exclusively because of King’s threats, the management team representing Klitschko is considering tendering a bout agreement to a boxer ranked lower than Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight championship bout."

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