Updated: May 28, 2010, 11:38 AM ET

Klitschko fighting Sosnowski but thinking Haye

Rafael By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com
Archive
Klitschko/SosnowskiLars Baron/Getty ImagesDoes this look like a man who wants to share the ring with Vitali Klitschko?

Since ending a nearly four-year retirement in 2008, Vitali Klitschko has been doing the same thing as his younger brother and fellow heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko -- cleaning out the division in dominant fashion.

Vitali ended his injury-induced retirement by crushing Samuel Peter to take back his old title, forcing Peter to quit after the eighth round. In his four fights since ending the retirement, Klitschko has faced quality opponents and scarcely lost a round.

He drilled Juan Carlos Gomez in the ninth round, overpowered Cris Arreola until his corner threw in the towel after 10 rounds and then won a shutout decision against Kevin Johnson in December.

With virtually no major name available -- the brothers have vowed never to fight each other -- Klitschko (39-2, 37) will make his fourth defense Saturday (Integrated Sports PPV, 3 p.m. ET, $24.95) at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, where a crowd of more than 60,000 is expected for his fight with Albert Sosnowski (45-2-1, 27 KOs).

Sosnowski, a native of Poland based in England, is a virtual unknown who four fights ago lost a shutout eight-round decision to journeyman Zuri Lawrence. But Sosnowski is getting the opportunity of a lifetime because the division is bereft of top contenders the Klitschko brothers haven't already destroyed.

The brothers, of course, would like to face titleholder David Haye in what would surely be the biggest fight the division has to offer. However, Haye has continually talked up fights against them only to go in another direction. Another possibility is Tomasz Adamek, the former cruiserweight champ making a splash at heavyweight.

"I am ready to fight anyone. We are ready to fight everyone to show we are the strongest boxers in the world in the heavyweight division," Vitali Klitschko said. "Wladimir knocked out the best American, Eddie Chambers, in the last fight. I just fought against Kevin Johnson. Who else? There are no big names. Sosnowski doesn't have so big [a] name as Muhammad Ali, so we wait on the new generation.

"There is no Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson anymore. We have to wait and be ready to fight anyone. I hope there are big names coming and that I am still fighting. If the new generation grows up fast, let's see. We need to see some new names with interest of the public."

So Klitschko, 38, did his best to talk up Sosnowski, 31, as a legitimate opponent during a conference call with the American media this week to promote the pay-per-view.

"I know Sosnowski is hungry. He's tough. He has nothing to lose," Klitschko said. "This is a big chance and opportunity for him to win [a] world title. I know it will be not easy to fight against him. I see in his eye that he is hungry for the fight and hungry to take the world title. It will be a real battle."

Sosnowski did his best to make his case as well.

"I realize that all the experts consider me a long shot, but Klitschko will regret having given me this opportunity," Sosnowski said. "He's already passed his prime. Many of his fights have been against living punching bags who had already lost in the locker room. You only have an opportunity like this once in a lifetime and I want to use it. I'll show Vitali and become be the first Polish heavyweight champion."

Although Klitschko was intent on talking about Sosnowski, the discussion eventually turned to Haye, who has taunted both brothers relentlessly and angered them by wearing a T-shirt to a news conference depicting an image of himself holding the bloody severed heads of the brothers.

Haye drew their ire again last summer when he pulled out of a fight with Wladimir just a couple of weeks ahead of time claiming an injury and later refused to sign a deal that had been negotiated for him to fight Vitali.

"I want to fight David Haye very much," Vitali said. "Wladimir wants to fight against him also but he told me that the title doesn't interest him. I want to fight David Haye because I want to [have] a double world title. Wladimir wants to fight him because it's personal. He wants to close his mouth inside the ring. David Haye understands that a fight against one of the Klitschko brothers will be the end of his career. I promise David Haye that a fight with me will be much shorter than one with my brother, because Wladimir will beat him badly for all 12 rounds and then knock him out. I give proposal to David Haye. I will make it easier for him. I will knock him out in three, maximum four rounds. The fight against Klitschko will mean the end of his career. It's why he tries to use every excuse to jump away.

"Nobody believe his injuries a few weeks before the fight with Wladimir. Then we were ready to sign a contract for my fight, and he jumped away. He has to fight. All boxing audience want to see the fight -- David Haye against one of the Klitschko brothers. David Haye, we give him the opportunity. He can decide [which brother] he wants to fight."

In a rarity, Integrated Sports is also offering a second pay-per-view card on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, $34.95). This one, titled "Undefeated Champions" from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, features two Puerto Rican titleholders making defenses.

Junior featherweight titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (18-0-1, 15 KOs) makes his first defense against Germany-based mandatory challenger Zsolt Bedak (14-0-1, 12 KOs) of Hungary, and junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez (22-0-1, 14 KOs) makes his second defense against Gonzalo Mungia (17-6-3, 13 KOs). Also featured will be the Arroyo twins, bantamweight McJoe (2-0, 1 KO) and junior bantamweight McWilliams (2-0, 2 KOs), both former Puerto Rican Olympians.

Judah fight on FNF

Marty Rosengarten/Ringsidephotos.com Zab Judah is hooking up with some old friends in hopes of jumpstarting his career.

Former welterweight champ Zab Judah's return at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., is set for July 16 and will headline on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2), Main Events promoter Kathy Duva said.

Judah (38-6, 26 KOs), who returned to his original promoter this week to co-promote his career with his own company, Super Judah Promotions, faces former interim lightweight titlist Jose Armando Santa Cruz (28-4, 17 KOs) in a 10-rounder at 143 pounds, Duva said.

"It's never going to get dull," she said of working with Judah, 32, eight years after they split. "We've known Zab for a long time," Duva said of the New Yorker. "He wants to build his company, which a lot of fighters have been doing lately. He wanted a situation where he could work with someone that would not dictate to him, and he is comfortable with us. He has a good relationship with the people here, especially [longtime Main Events employee] Jolene [Mizzone]. We're going to work together and hopefully it's for the rest of his career.

"We're approaching this as a partnership and we'll give him a chance to learn this end of the business. We have the same idea -- that he needs to get busy, get in the ring few times and be in his home area. He has a lot of mileage left on him. He's decided he wants to do it right and we can do it right."

Duva said Judah would also fight Oct. 2 in Newark unless a significant opportunity arose. "We're not here to wait for television dates," she said. "We have a plan."

Power struggle

AP Photo/Hans Deryk It might be a while before we see Guillermo Rigondeaux doing this to someone again.

An ongoing dispute over junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux's contract has him sidelined and unlikely to appear in a scheduled ESPN2 fight June 4 in Miami. Rigondeaux (5-0, 4 KOs), the two-time Olympic gold medalist and Cuban defector, was supposed to face Reynaldo Lopez in a bout that was rescheduled from April. But Rigondeaux's manager, Gary Hyde, and his promoter, Luis DeCubas, are embroiled in a power struggle over control of his career.

Rigondeaux left Hyde and later signed with DeCubas. But Hyde, who would like to place Rigondeaux with another promoter, went to court and won a judgment for his managerial contract to be upheld. That means Rigondeaux can't fight unless Hyde signs off on any bout.

Hyde also wants Rigondeaux to get back together with trainer Freddie Roach, whom he split with before the April bout was postponed.

"Misinformation and false accusations against Roach were made by people who have been controlling Rigondeaux," Hyde said. "The truth is Rigo left Freddie because Roach said he wasn't in proper condition to fight April 10, because he'd been training only two weeks. They said Freddie didn't have the authority to prevent Rigo from fighting, so, as his manager, I stopped him from taking that fight. Then they instructed Rigo to leave Freddie and return to Miami."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?