Dzinziruk signs with Pelullo, Shaw

Junior middleweight titleholder Sergei Dzinziruk, whose split with German promoter Universum after a protracted legal battle over his contract became official on Wednesday, signed a co-promotional agreement with American promoters Artie Pelullo and Gary Shaw.

Because of the dispute with Universum, Dzinziruk (36-0, 22 KOs), a native of Ukraine living in Germany, has not fought since outpointing Joel "Love Child" Julio in November 2008 in Germany.

He said he had no hard feelings against Universum, which helped guide him to a world title in December 2005, when he scored an eighth-round knockdown against Daniel Santos en route to a unanimous decision victory.

"We have had constructive conversations and have found a way to dissolve my contract," Dzinziruk said. "I am grateful to Universum for my success in recent years and for the ability to become a professional boxer. Under [Universum chief] Klaus-Peter Kohl, I became the WBO world champion and I am extremely grateful to him for that."

Stefan Braune, Universum's managing director, said in a statement, "After the courts affirmed the validity of our contract, Sergei asked that it be canceled by mutual agreement. We were able to reach an agreement about this in recent weeks. We do not want to be an obstacle to Sergei and now wish him all the best and especially good health. We are grateful to Sergei for the many great matches that he fought under our banner."

Dzinziruk, a southpaw who turns 34 on March 1, talked to several promoters in recent months before accepting a co-promotional deal with Pelullo's Banner Promotions and Shaw. Dzinziruk decided on American promoters because he wants to fight in the United States.

"I think he's the top junior middleweight in the world," Pelullo said. "Sergei wants to come to America. He wants to fight the best opponents possible and unify the world titles. I'm also looking forward to working again with Gary. We've been friends for many years and have always worked well together in the past."

Shaw, who has previously co-promoted fighters with Pelullo, including the late Diego "Chico" Corrales, added, "No one is safe once they step into the ring with Sergei. There's a reason he's called 'The Razor.' He cuts his opponents up to ribbons. He is one of the brightest lights in boxing's most exciting division. Artie and I have big plans for him which will include his U.S. debut this spring and setting up his base of operations in Los Angeles, where he'll be taking screen tests."

Dzinziruk, a 1996 Olympian for Ukraine and 1997 world amateur champion, has defended his belt five times and is the longest-reigning titleholder in a 154-pound division in which Sergio Martinez, Cory Spinks and Yuri Foreman hold the other alphabet belts.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.