<
>

Johnson-Solis bout set for Aug. 15

In such a shallow heavyweight division it might take only one victory against a contender for another contender to make his name. That's what Kevin Johnson, Odlanier Solis and their handlers are counting on.

That's why the heavyweights will face each other in an unusual meeting of undefeated rising contenders without a major title on the line, or even a mandatory title shot at stake.

Johnson and Solis will meet in a scheduled 12-round bout at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on Top Rank's Aug. 15 pay-per-view card.

Carl Moretti of Top Rank, which co-promotes Solis, and Star Boxing's Joe DeGuardia, Johnson's promoter, came to an agreement Monday night, they both told ESPN.com.

"The paperwork is being drawn up but everything has been agreed to," Moretti said. "It's an important fight for both guys."

Nonito Donaire, who gave up his flyweight title last week, is moving up to junior bantamweight to fight Rafael Concepcion for a vacant interim junior bantamweight belt in the main event. Also on the card, featherweight titlist Steven Luevano defends against Bernabe Concepcion.

However, the Johnson-Solis fight, which has been in discussion since mid-June, is perhaps the most intriguing bout on the card.

"I think it's a difficult fight in terms of style, but Kevin wants to show he can beat anyone out there," DeGuardia said. "David Haye won't step the plate, Cris Arreola won't step to the plate and the Klitschko brothers are occupied. So we are looking to make statements and this will be a statement fight. We want to make a mark so that HBO and Showtime wake up and see there is a real heavyweight in America."

Said Moretti, "The winner is going to have a shot on HBO I think. I think if HBO was doing another 'Night of the Young Heavyweights' card, clearly these are two guys who would be participating."

Johnson (22-0-1, 9 KOs), 29, has one of the best jabs in the division and has the gift of gab. He is also coming off an impressive sixth-round knockout of 2004 U.S. Olympian Devin Vargas on May 15 in an ESPN2 main event.

Solis (14-0, 10 KOs), also 29, won an Olympic gold medal for Cuba in 2004 before defecting and turning pro in 2007. In his last fight, Solis knocked out journeyman Dominique Alexander in the first round on June 12.

"Kevin will be facing his second undefeated Olympian in a row," DeGuardia said. "The heavyweight division could be alive with a guy like Kevin with his jab and his mouth. This is the kind of fight that will give the winner a lot of recognition."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.