Klitschko fighting Sosnowski but thinking Haye
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
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."
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.
• After heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek beat Cristobal Arreola on April 24, the ex-cruiserweight champ's most significant win in three fights since moving up in weight, there was talk of a title bout with David Haye, one of the Klitschkos, or an Arreola rematch. But Adamek and trainers Roger Bloodworth and Ronnie Shields, who have worked with him for only one fight, are taking it slow. Instead of facing a big name, Adamek will fight ex-title challenger Michael Grant (46-3, 34 KOs), who has won eight straight against low-level opponents and hasn't been regarded as a serious contender for nearly a decade. Poland's Adamek (41-1, 27 KOs), now living in Jersey City, N.J., will face Grant Aug. 21 at the Prudential Center in Newark, Main Events' Kathy Duva said. Adamek has become a major draw there because of the large Polish community. Duva said she spoke with HBO, which aired the Arreola bout, about Adamek's next fight but it wouldn't commit to a date. "Tomasz wanted to fight soon and we couldn't wait for HBO," Duva said. She said the 6-foot-5 Grant was selected to give Adamek experience against a tall opponent. "If he's going to have a career at heavyweight he's going to fight guys 6-5. Might as well get used to it," she said. "Roger and Ronnie want him to learn about fighting a big guy and they want to have time to work with him on things." If Adamek wins, Duva said he'd return to Newark in November, unless a significant fight came up.
• After junior bantamweight champ Vic Darchinyan won a bantamweight bout in Australia on May 20 and featherweight Rafael Marquez stopped Israel Vazquez in their fourth bout two days later, the winners mentioned the possibility of fighting each other. Darchinyan wants to move up in weight for a big fight and he and Marquez are both promoted by Gary Shaw. While the match is possible, it probably won't be next. Shaw told ESPN.com he's planning a Showtime doubleheader in September that would feature them in separate bouts. Shaw said he'll meet with Showtime to discuss the particulars.
• It took awhile for him to show up, but middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is in Hollywood, Calif., training with Freddie Roach at his Wild Card gym in preparation for his June 26 bout against John Duddy, which headlines Top Rank's "Latin Fury 15" pay-per-view card from San Antonio. So far, Roach likes what he sees. "He has good skills, has a nice pop on his punch and does everything I ask for in the ring," Roach said. "I am working with him to sit down on his punches, not move so much while throwing."
• Light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov (9-1, 6 KOs), a native of Kazakhstan based in Las Vegas, makes his mandatory defense against Ukraine's Vyacheslav Uzelkov (22-0, 14 KO) at the Tachie Palace in Lemoore, Calif., on July 23 on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2), promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com. Goossen signed Shumenov earlier this month. Fighting in Kazakhstan, Shumenov lost a majority decision challenging Spain's Gabriel Campillo for the belt last summer. However, in the January rematch in Las Vegas, Shumenov claimed the title via controversial split decision.
• Jorge Arce suffered a cut over his right eye while sparring and will need a few weeks to heal, forcing him to withdraw from his June 26 bout with interim bantamweight titlist Eric Morel. The fight had been slated for Top Rank's "Latin Fury 15" pay-per-view. "The cut was bad enough to push him off the card," Top Rank's Carl Moretti said. Arce, who claimed a vacant junior bantamweight belt in January, relinquished it in order to move up in weight to challenge Morel. No replacement fight is set for the pay-per-view, but Top Rank has fights on the show involving junior welterweight prospect Mike Alvarado and featherweight prospect Salvador Sanchez. Only one was ticketed for television, but now both likely will make air.
• One of the possible fights for the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II HBO PPV undercard July 31 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay was a featherweight scrap between former junior featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon and ex-bantamweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez. However, Gonzalez was cut in a recent win, so he's out. Golden Boy also offered the bout to Antonio Escalante, but his manager, Lester Bedford, told ESPN.com he turned it down because Escalante is coming off injuries to both elbows, which forced him out of a recent ESPN2 fight. Bedford said he would like Escalante to have a fight or two with new trainer Louie Burke "before jumping into a big fight." Golden Boy is also exploring undercard fights involving middleweight Daniel Jacobs, the 2009 ESPN.com prospect of the year, and former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Jorge Linares.
• Showtime's "Fight Camp 360°: Inside The Super Six World Boxing Classic" documentary series, which has been following the tournament inside and outside of the ring, returns for its sixth episode June 2 (11 p.m. ET/PT). The 30-minute episode goes behind the scenes at Mikkel Kessler's dramatic title-winning victory against Carl Froch on April 24 and previews the June 19 bout between titlist Andre Ward and Allan Green, the final fight of Group Stage 2. If you have missed any of the previous five episodes, they can be viewed at www.WorldBoxingClassic.com.
• Germany-based heavyweight contender Juan Carlos Gomez (46-2, 36 KOs) goes for his third consecutive victory since Vitali Klitschko knocked him out in the ninth round of a March 2009 title bout when he faces Turkey's Oezcan Cetinkaya (17-6-1, 11 KOs) on June 4 in Germany. Gomez laments the state of the division. "I know that I lost to Vitali clearly and I also know that I am not in the shape of my life at the moment," Gomez said. "But still I am a better boxer than all of the [Ruslan] Chagaevs, [Nikolai] Valuevs, [Albert] Sosnowskis and [David] Hayes out there. The Klitschkos are good fighters without a doubt but they mainly look so strong and dominant because they lack good competition. The other problem of the division is that the so-called world-class fighters don't fight each other. I would take on anybody. But instead of fighting a name I have to step into the ring with a guy like Cetinkaya, who isn't close to my league. I surely don't underestimate any opponent and I give him props for challenging me. But I would rather fight a big name. The only problem is there are no big names out there instead of the Klitschkos."
• Juan Carlos Burgos (24-0, 17 KOs) is one step closer to a featherweight title shot against Elio Rojas. Burgos, who was so impressive in a 12th-round knockout of Juan Carlos Martinez on ESPN2 in January, just needs to defeat Ricardo Castillo (38-7-1, 25 KOs), the younger brother of former two-time lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo, Saturday night in Guadalajara, Mexico, in a title eliminator. "I love to participate in a real fight, where many of you wonder who will win," said Burgos, the nephew of former junior flyweight titlist Victor Burgos. "Castillo doesn't have enough attributes to beat me. I am the younger of the two and I am very disciplined. Those are some of my advantages."
• Showtime is planning to move the Super Six fight between Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, originally planned for Aug. 21, to a date in the fall. No reason has been given, but the conflict between the camps over where to hold the bout -- in Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, or on Abraham's turf in Germany -- is an issue. Welterweight Alfonso Gomez, who polished off Jose Luis Castillo in March on the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey undercard, returns July 17 in Mexico to headline "Top Rank Live" (FSN en Espanol). Also scheduled for "Top Rank Live" is junior flyweight titlist Giovanni Segura, who is slated to defend July 31. No opponent yet.