Klitschko Ibragimov Close To Being Set For February

wladimir klitschko08.11.07 - Matthew Hurley: According to an Associated Press report International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, 49-3 with 44 KOs will partially unify the titles when he takes on World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov, 22-0-1 with 17 KOs at Madison Square Garden on February 23rd. Negotiations for the match are still ongoing but both sides plan to make an official announcement by the end of the week.

Ibragimov’s promoter and lawyer Leon Margules maintains that signing the fight is near completion. “We have a few small things to clear up,” he said, “but both sides want this bout to happen.”

Klitschko, who last fought in July when Lamon Brewster retired in his corner after the sixth round, has said he intends to unify all the belts so that boxing will have its first unified champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999. That task is easier said then done with so many belts and ridiculous mandatory defenses and sanctioning fees to contend with. But Klitschko, who to the majority of the public seems to be at the very least the front runner in the heavyweight division indeed seems sincere that this first step will lead to future matches with WBA belt holder Ruslan Chagaev and WBC “interim” title holder Samuel Peter should they hold onto their belts.

Lennox Lewis claimed the undisputed championship in a rematch with Evander Holyfield but soon after politics fractured the belts and planted the seeds for the current disarray in the heavyweight division. The WBO, which was introduced in 1989, was not generally considered a legitimate heavyweight belt at the time. The organization’s first heavyweight champion was Francesco Damiani whose short reign came during Mike Tyson’s run as undisputed champion. In 2000 the WBA and Lewis were sued by ranked contender John Ruiz and his representatives who stipulated that the champion had reneged on a previous agreement that Ruiz would fight Lewis for the WBA title after his rematch with Holyfield. A New Jersey court ruled in Ruiz’s favor and ordered Lewis to immediately fight Ruiz or be stripped of the title. Lewis then signed on to fight Michael Grant thereby relinquishing his WBA belt. In 2001 Lewis was paid one million dollars in “step aside” money by his promoter Don King to relinquish the IBF title so King could promote a title bout between Chris Byrd and Evander Holyfield both of whom he had under contract. The heavyweight championship has been fractured ever since.

Ibragimov’s last fight came against Evander Holyfield in October. He won a unanimous decision.

Article posted on 09.11.2007

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