Injured Klitschko pulls out 4th time

WBC champion hurts knee this time

Rahman bout had been set for Saturday



A sprained right knee, suffered during a sparring session Thursday night, has forced World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko to pull out of yet a fourth scheduled defense against former champion and Baltimore native Hasim Rahman, promoter Bob Arum said yesterday.

Klitschko (35-2, 34 knockouts), who has not fought since December of last year, twisted the knee during the sparring session in Los Angeles, but was deemed fit to fight yesterday after a one-hour examination by orthopoedic surgeon Tony Daly of the Los Angeles Sports Medicine Clinic.

Daly told The Sun early yesterday that Klitschko had no tears and was absolutely capable of fighting after determining there was no swelling and no tears in the knee.

However, after being fitted with a brace, Klitschkos knee later buckled again, less than a minute into a sparring round with journeyman Ed Mahone for Saturdays fight, said promoter Bob Arum, who accompanied Klitschko; his brother, Wladimir; his trainer, Fritz Sdunek, and promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 promotions to the session at the Pound-4-Pound gym.

Vitali put the brace on, moved around in the ring, punched the heavy bag, did pushups and nothing was a problem, said Arum, who witnessed the workout. But then, when he got in with Mahone, started moving around, he backed up and the right leg buckled. It happened in the first minute.

Arum said the fight will be postponed, but that a new date will be announced this week.

Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs), who was to earn $4.2 million to Klitschkos $7.8 million, was unavailable for comment, but his manager, Steve Nelson, said he expects to meet with him today and examine the options.

On July 15, the WBCs board of governers rejected Klitschkos request for an optional defense against unbeaten contender Calvin Brock, instead voting to force the champion to face the winner of the Aug. 13 Rahman-Barrett interim title bout.

Klitschkos request had come after his previous injuries had forced the postponement of three fights with Rahman.

Klitschko, who called the ruling in favor of an interim title a fair solution, has been out of action since a Dec. 5 knockout of Englands Danny Williams, after which he had six months in which to defend against Rahman.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman extended that time frame due to Klitschkos thigh and back injuries, which forced the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Ukrainian to pull out of bouts against Rahman scheduled for April 30, June 18 and, finally, July 23.

After the last postponement, Sulaiman left the decision up to the WBCs board of governers, having determined Klitschko wasnt likely to be ready by September.

Reached on his cellular phone last night, Sulaiman, having landed at a Mexico City airport, expressed anger and disbelief on hearing the news from a reporter.

Because he put on a brace and it didnt work? That is a very irresponsible position. I dont accept any statement coming from anybody but a doctor, even the fighter, Sulaiman said.

We cant say hes not fighting until I hear that officially from a doctor. This is a big responsibility to television, the boxing public and to the people of the world. I have to make sure that a statement like that has [factual] basis.


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