Deeply involved in politics in his home country of Ukraine and 42 years old, heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko has made no secret that he is not long for boxing.
When he stopped Manuel Charr in the fourth round on a terrible cut in September to retain his world title for the ninth time, it loomed as a possible career finale because he had been talking about retirement even before the fight.
Since that win, Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) has not said he was going to retire, but he has also not said he would fight again. However, it seems as though he does intend to fight at least once more because his team at K2 Promotions has been negotiating his mandatory defense with Don King, promoter of Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs), who earned the title shot with a dominant upset decision against Cristobal Arreola in their April 27 title eliminator.
The mandatory is due, and a purse bid should have already taken place if the sides were unable to make a deal. Although the sides seem no closer to making one now, even after months of discussion, the purse bid has been postponed at least twice.
According to Stiverne manager Camille Estephan, the most recent date for the purse bid to take place was July 22, but that was before the WBC granted Klitschko another extension, forcing another delay in the bidding process. Why multiple extensions have been allowed is unclear.
"It's a bit frustrating to hear only two days before the scheduled purse bid that it has once again been postponed,” Estephan, CEO of Eye Of The Tiger Management, said. “We are waiting for a new date. At this point, we have worked really hard to secure potential venues.”
Stiverne, who is based in Las Vegas, lived for years in Canada. Estephan said Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre and Montreal's Bell Centre are possible locations -- but only if their side gains control of the fight at a purse bid. If K2 Promotions controls the fight, Klitschko surely would want it to take place in Germany.
“Regardless, Bermane is ready now, or in a few months, and the longer Klitschko plays politics rather than man up and fight, the more ready we will be and the older he will get,” Estephan said. “Bermane will KO him wherever and whenever it happens.”
What should happen is that the sides be given a firm purse bid deadline. If they make a deal, great. If not, conduct the purse bid and let’s get on with this fight already.