THE RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko will pursue his 16th straight victory and his 12th knockout during that run in an EPIX-televised rematch with southpaw Tony Thompson from Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland on July 7.
On July 14, EPIX will air a defense by the WBA’s “regular” heavyweight beltholder Alexander Povetkin (24-0, 16 knockouts) against former two-time titleholder Hasim Rahman (50-7-2, 41 KOs), with ex-WBA titlewinner David Haye to face rival Dereck Chisora on the Povetkin-Rahman undercard.
Povetkin-Rahman and Haye-Chisora will take place in the West Ham Football Club’s Boleyn Ground at Upton Park in London, England.
The division is dominated by the Ukrainian Klitscho brothers, including Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali, holder of the WBC’s crown. Wladimir Klitschko has the WBA’s “super” title as well as the IBF and WBO belts.
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight crown since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s strap. In 2006, Rahman held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd. Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz, the first Latino to win a heavyweight belt, held the WBA title from 2001 to 2005.
By the time they enter the ring, it will be nearly four years to the day that the nearly 6-foot-7 Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KOs) scored an 11th-round knockout of the 6-foot-5 Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs).
But since being stopped by Klitschko on July 12, 2008, Thompson, who is 40, has won five straight bouts, all by knockout.
Klitschko, 36, is coming off a fourth-round knockout of former cruiserweight titleholder Jean Marc Mormeck in March. Klitschko’s run also includes a seventh round stoppage of Rahman in December of 2008, and a unanimous decision over that dethroned Haye in July of last year.
Since falling to Klitschko, Rahman, 39, has scored five straight knockouts, and is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Glen Brown in June of last year.
Rahman dethroned Lennox Lewis as undisputed champion by fifth-round knockout in April of 2001 only to lose it by fourth-round stoppage seven month later in November.
Povetkin, 32, is coming off a disputed majority decision over cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck in February.
Although Haye (25-2, 23 KOs) is returning to the ring for the first time since falling to Klitschko, the 31-year-old has a rivalry going with Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs), who is coming off a spirited unanimous decision loss to Vitali Klitschko in February.
The only other losses for Chisora, 28, were against unbeaten fighters Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius by unanimous and split-decision in July and December of last year respectively.
POLICITIANS BET ON FRUITS ON THE LABOR OF VICTOR ORTIZ, JOSESITO LOPEZ
Former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz has the backing of Ventura, Calif., mayor Mike Tracy, as does rival Josesito Lopez that of Tracy’s Riverside counterpart, Ronald O. Loveridge heading into Saturday night’s Showtime-televised clash from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The two politicians are wagering fruits on the fighters’ labors.
“I am betting this flat of Ventura grown strawberries to a box of Riverside grown oranges that my man Victor Ortiz will defeat his man, Josesito Lopez, on June 23 when they fight at Staples Center,” said Tracy.
Lopez (29-4, 17 knockouts) is motivated by the fact that Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) may already looking beyond him toward his already-announced rise into the 154-pound division, where he is slated to challenge WBC beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) in a Showtime Pay-Per-View card from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 15.
Ortiz must first get beyond Lopez to face Alvarez, a bout that would take place if he his victorious unless Ortiz suffers an injury during the bout such as a broken hand or severe cuts that would hinder his participation.
“The fight alone is motivation enough,” said Lopez, a hardnosed junior welterweight who, at 27, is two years older than Ortiz. “But just the fact that, in my eyes, they’re jumping the gun, it adds more motivation. That’s certainly it right there.”
Loveridge is betting on Lopez to get it done by putting up a 25-pound bag of Riverside’s finest oranges that his fighter will defeat Ortiz.
HUMBERTO SOTO EYES 16TH STRAIGHT WIN
Former WBC junior lightweight and lightweight titleholder Humberto Soto of Mexico will pursue his 16th straight win and his seventh knockout during that run against hard-hitting junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse of Argentina on the Ortiz-Lopez undercard.
Soto (58-7-2, 34 KOs) has not tasted defeat since June of 2008, when he lost by fourth-round disqualification against Francisco Lorenzo.
Matthysse (30-2, 28 knockouts) will be after his third straight stoppage win in this WBC 140-pound title eliminator bout against Soto.
Photo by Dmitriy Abramov
Photos by Brenda Flowers