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Klitschko-Rahman Postponed; Champion Injured In Training
NEW YORK — WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko injured his knee while preparing for a Nov. 12 mandatory defense against WBC interim heavyweight champion, Hasim Rahman in Las Vegas. The bout has been postponed indefinitely.
“All year long he’s been ducking me. This doesn’t happen by happenstance,” Rahman said. “I’ve been more of a champion [without] the championship than he’s been with the championship. & I’m the one acting like a champion.”
It has been reported that Klitschko has suffered torn meniscus (cartilage) in his right knee during a recent sparring session and may require orthopedic surgery.
“When he went backward and made sudden movements, the knee buckled. It just didn’t work. We certainly tried to keep the fight on,” said Bob Arum, the fight’s promoter.
Klitschko, 34, (35-2, 34 KOs) of Kiev, Ukraine, was supposed to have fought Rahman, 32, (41-5-1, 33 KOs) of Baltimore, MD, in April at Madison Square Garden, but the champion had surgeries on his knees and lower back. There were also postponements in June and July. This recent postponement is the fourth-time this year that Klitschko has backed out of a fight against Rahman, the WBC “interim” heavyweight champion.
“Four times he’s pulled out. Unprecedented,” Rahman said. “And you are the champ. Cut it out, cut it out, cut it out.”
Klitschko, who won the WBC heavyweight title in April 2004 by stopping Corrie Sanders in the eighth-round, has fought once in the last 20 months since beating Sanders.
The only defense of the WBC crown Klitschko made occurred in Dec. 2004. Klitschko knocked out Danny Williams in the eighth-round of an uncompetitive, one-sided match.
Rahman has never worked any harder to earn a heavyweight title fight. When Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis to win the WBC/IBF titles in April 2001, Johannesburg, South Africa, Rahman was a hand-picked selection.
To fight Klitschko, Rahman won five consecutive fights in 2004 to earn the WBC’s highest ranking.
Following a July cancellation, Rahman kept pressing for a title shot against Klitschko. Rahman actually risked his No. 1-ranking against good friend, Monte Barrett in August for the WBC “interim” title. As “interim” champion, the winner 1) would face Klitschko for a larger share of the customary 75%-25% (champion vs. mandatory challenger) purse split. 2) In the event Klitschko postponed his mandatory defense, the “interim” titlist would be declared champion and Klitschko would be stripped.
During the summer, Rahman defeated Barrett in by unanimous 12-round decision to win the “interim” title status and to force a 65%-35% purse split. Also, Arum of Top Rank, amazed everyone by outbidding longtime rival Don King and Klitschko’s K2 Promotions with a bid of $12 million for the rights to promote Klitschko-Rahman.
There no word as to whether Klitschko will be stripped of the WBC heavyweight title, or if Rahman will be declared the new WBC champion. Either way, a termination of this fight would be detrimental for both fighters. Klitschko was suppose to make a career-high $7.8 million, as opposed to the $4.2 million earned by Rahman, who filed for bankruptcy.
Klitschko-Rahman adds to heavyweight mess
The troubles of the uninteresting heavyweight division continue, as IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd has reportedly filed a lawsuit against promoter Don King. Byrd has fought only once in the last 12 months and appears to be frustrated that big-money fights against James Toney and Wladimir Klitschko failed to materialize.
Also, John Ruiz, the WBA heavyweight champion, is suing Toney (previously mentioned). In April, Ruiz lost the WBA title to Toney, who later tested positive for steroid use. Toney, who claims he had used medication to heal a shoulder injury, was stripped of the WBA title and cannot fight for the organization’s title for two years.
Ruiz claims that his career has been hurt by Toney’s steroid use, although the WBA restored him as champion by declaring the bout a no-contest.
Ruiz is scheduled to face an undefeated No. 1-ranked contender, 7,’Nicolay Valuev of Russia on Dec. 17.