WBC tells V. Klitschko to fight Rahman

Rahman-Barrett winner is next, not Brock, champ told

July 16, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS - The World Boxing Council's board of governors yesterday rejected a request for an optional defense by WBC heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, voting instead to force the champion to face the winner of the Aug. 13 interim title bout between No. 1 contender Hasim Rahman, a Baltimore native, and No. 2 Monte Barrett of Queens, N.Y., unless the Rahman-Barrett winner agrees otherwise.

Klitschko (35-2, 34 knockouts) had hoped to face rising unbeaten heavyweight Calvin Brock (26-0, 21 KOs), a deal agreed upon earlier this week, on HBO on Sept. 24. If the Rahman-Barrett winner and Klitschko's camp agree, the WBC will allow the Klitschko-Brock fight as long as the Klitschko-Brock winner agrees to face the Rahman-Barrett winner no later than December.

"I think it's a fair decision. The WBC is a stand-up organization. I think they stood up and made the right decision. I'm not allowing him to fight on Sept. 24," said Rahman (40-5-1, 33 KOs), who is training in Las Vegas. "Vitali Klitschko made me wait all year long for a title shot. People are making a big deal of me making him wait, but this is his doing. His injuries put us in this situation.

"A 65-35 split, that's OK," Rahman said. "I'm ready to get it on. The negotiating's done. I'm ready to fight Monte and then Klitschko. I'm going to do what a champion should have been doing all along. I'll fight his mandatory and then fight him."

If victorious, Rahman would likely meet Klitschko in November.

Injuries to Klitschko, 33, had forced the postponement of three dates on which Rahman, 32, was scheduled to fight him. As a result, the WBC mandated that Rahman and Barrett (31-3, 17 KOs) meet for the interim title, with the winner being mandated to face Klitschko.

"I'm proud to be the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, and I want to thank the WBC and its president, Jose Sulaiman, for finding a fair solution to our situation," Klitschko said in a statement. "There has been a lot of criticism about me lately, but now that I am healthy and able to fight and know when my next fight will be, I am keen to go forward and show the critics ... who the real heavyweight champion of the world is."

If Klitschko is not permitted to fight Brock in September, the Rahman-Barrett winner must be ready and medically approved by the WBC to face Klitschko within six to eight weeks of their Aug. 13 fight.

"What the WBC has done is said, `Let the best fight the best.' All we've really wanted all along is to fight Vitali Klitschko for the WBC championship," said Steve Nelson, manager of Rahman. "Now it's totally Vitali's decision whether he wants to defend the championship against the best available fighter out there - the winner of Rahman-Barrett - or give up the title. There's no more excuses. We want Vitali, it's a fight the public wants, and the WBC is mandating that the best fight the best."

Klitschko said he would prefer to fight Rahman.

"I am not rooting for either Rahman or Barrett," Klitschko said. "But Rahman has been talking so much and saying so many bad things about me that I think I would love to personally shut him up once and for all."

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