With no regard for Rahman, Klitschko sets sights on Brock

He's expected to seal deal

WBC title may be stripped

July 08, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Disregarding the possibility that he might be stripped of his World Boxing Council title and disregarding challenges to his manhood, Ukrainian heavyweight Vitali Klitschko was expected to finalize a contract last night to fight Calvin Brock in September instead of higher-ranked contenders Hasim Rahman or Monte Barrett.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman was diplomatic in an interview yesterday, but he encouraged Klitschko to instead fight the winner of the Aug. 13 interim championship bout in Chicago between Rahman and Barrett.

"I have the highest respect, admiration and esteem for Vitali Klitschko," Sulaiman said. "I believe that he is a champion with dignity, and I believe that he should, for the good of boxing, fight the winner of Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett.

"That would make him the one and only [heavyweight champion] in the eyes of the world."

Rahman, 32, and his manager, Steve Nelson, have been less charitable, accusing Klitschko, 33, of ducking the Baltimore native.

To make their point, they have invited the national media to an open workout next week in Las Vegas and said they will provide lunch, featuring a main course of chicken Kiev.

Rahman (40-5-1) was considered the No. 1 contender before Klitschko, suffering from thigh and back injuries, was allowed by the WBC this year to postpone three scheduled meetings with Rahman.

After the third postponement, Sulaiman mandated that Rahman face No. 2 contender Barrett in an interim championship bout. The winner of Rahman-Barrett would then fight Klitschko before the end of September. If Klitschko (35-2) still was not healthy, the Rahman-Barrett winner would be declared the WBC champion.

A source close to Klitschko's K2 Promotions, however, said the fighter's adviser, Shelly Finkel, was told by the WBC on Wednesday that the rules permit an optional defense as long as the winner next met Rahman or Barrett. Klitschko's fight against Brock (26-0) would be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., and televised by HBO.

But Sulaiman said the decision would be made by his 36-member board of governors, which is expected to make a ruling as soon as next Friday.

Sulaiman wouldn't speculate on the board's decision. However, a WBC source said "the rules favor not to sanction [Klitschko's optional defense] and demand that he fight the winner of the interim championship."

"Many a WBC champion has accepted the WBC's rulings," Sulaiman said. "I hope Vitali will do it if he is asked."

Rahman, who is now based in Las Vegas, said yesterday he is confident the WBC will demand Klitschko face him next.

"I believe that from the beginning I made it clear to the WBC which title I was going after," he said. "I was ranked No. 1 by the WBO, the IBF and the WBA, and and I chose to go after [WBC champion] Vitali Klitschko. I expect to receive their full support, but I'm not fixated on Vitali Klitschko. I expect to crowned WBC champion with or without him."

Nelson said he suspects it will have to be without Klitschko.

"When we win our case, I believe it's going to be harder to find Vitali Klitschko than it was for George Bush to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," he said. "I think he's going to disappear on us regardless of what the WBC's decision is. We believe he's going to look to continue his career without having to fight Rock."

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