Tourney to determine Klitschko foe?

Now that heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has blown through Tony Thompson, who was his IBF mandatory challenger, for the second time, the organization is beginning the process of finding the next sacrificial lamb.

Klitschko's next mandatory for the organization isn't due for a year, but the IBF is beginning the process now and is proposing a four-man box-off, with the winner to receive the title shot.

These things rarely work out, as the IBF is well aware. It tried this last time around. Thompson committed to the mini tournament, but when the three other contestants bailed out, Thompson's promoter, Dan Goossen, convinced the organization to make Thompson the mandatory rather than go through another time-consuming effort to find participants in a new tournament.

I have little expectation it will work this time around, either, but at least for now, the four leading available fighters in the IBF's heavyweight rankings (which are very weak) are being lined up. If it works out, the semifinals would match Tomasz Adamek (who was smoked by Vitali Klitschko in a title fight last year) with Alexander Ustinov, and Odlanier Solis (who already suffered a first-round, knee injury-induced loss to Vitali in a title fight) with European champion Kubrat Pulev.

Nothing there to get anyone too excited, but the promoters and fighters are at least talking about making the fights.

"We have reached out to the Ustinov people, K2 East, and are waiting to hear back from them," Pat English, the attorney for Adamek's promoter, Main Events, told me on Wednesday.

Adamek is scheduled to fight Sept. 8 in Newark, N.J., in a fight that will air as a pay-per-view in his native Poland. Thankfully, the sham of a fight that was proposed between Adamek and the totally shot James Toney for that date has fallen through. English said for a variety of reasons "we just never consummated the deal."

So it's possible that Adamek's fight could become part of the proposed elimination tournament.

Solis is also apparently game, according to Arena-Box promoter Ahmet Oner, who co-promotes the fighter with Main Events.

Solis, a former Olympic gold medalist and Cuban defector, had knee surgery after the loss to Vitali Klitschko and returned from a 14-month layoff to outpoint Konstantin Airich in March.

"I am convinced that Solis is the man who will finally end the boredom in the heavyweight division," said Oner, who has been making the same ludicrous comment for about the past five years. "As an amateur, he beat whoever came his way, and as a professional he would already be world champion if his knee hadn't given in. Now the younger Klitschko will have to suffer for Solis' bad luck against the older brother."

Solis-Pulev would be a rematch of an amateur meeting. Pulev beat him in a 2002 tournament.

"But the tournament was in Pulev's home country, Bulgaria, and Solis lost a close decision," Oner said. "I think that alone tells you enough about that fight. I hope that for the elimination bout there will be neutral ring officials, but I'm sure the IBF will take care of that."

Pulev has not yet committed to the tournament.

"We will discuss his options and then decide," Chris Meyer of Sauerland Event wrote to me in an e-mail on Tuesday.

While the various contenders sort this all out, I'm sure Klitschko isn't too worried about the outcome.