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WBC sets up stipulations for Vitali Klitschko's next defense

Vitali Klitschko's next fight is still up in the air, no matter what "resolution" the WBC came to today. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Vitali Klitschko's next fight is still up in the air, no matter what "resolution" the WBC came to today. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Bongarts/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

According to a press release from Arena Box, a weird scene from the WBC convention unfolded in Cancun, and an outline has been set up for what will be heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko's next fight, or at least that's the story.

Klitschko's team asked for the right to make an optional title defense in March. The fight would have been against Tomasz Adamek at Madison Square Garden. Trouble is, there's a December 17 eliminator between Odlanier Solis and Ray Austin set right now, and Klitschko has not made a mandatory defense since his March 2009 win over Juan Carlos Gomez. Since then, he has taken four optional defenses against Cristobal Arreola, Kevin Johnson, Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs.

WBC dictator Jose Sulaiman said he was leaning toward allowing the Klitschko-Adamek fight in March, and then mandate a fight between the winner of that bout and the Austin-Solis winner for June. Right here you get into easily doubting the intention. As much praise as the Klischkos deserve for being active, it's still certainly no guarantee that Vitali, who turns 40 next July, is going to be able to fight twice in that short time period. He did return on less than three months' rest after Arreola to beat Johnson, but then was out for six months before fighting Sosnowski, and then another four and a half before fighting Briggs.

This led to what is being called an "emotional" argument between Sulaiman and Austin's promoter Don King, who had made an impassioned plea beforehand for Sulaiman to not allow the optional defense in March. Sulaiman became so "emotional" that he "resigned" as head of the WBC, only to return shortly after and reclaim his post.

In the end, a deal was hammered out that dictates that the fight between Klitschko and the Solis-Austin winner must take place no more than 100 days after December 17 ... that is unless there's a draw or the winning fighter is injured to the point that he cannot fight again within 100 days. The sides will have a short window to negotiate before a purse bid comes into play on December 28.

Rules being rules, it's frankly the right decision. Klitschko hasn't made a mandatory defense in a long time, and even though Ray Austin has no business being in the eliminator bout, he and Solis have waited their turn -- which I guess is really part of the issue I have with the fight, too, all that waiting for turns instead of fighting. Austin hasn't fought since October 2009, and Solis has fought just once this year. Both have been sitting and waiting.

Right now, Adamek is scheduled to face Vinny Maddalone on December 9 in New Jersey. If he wins as expected, it appears the next step for his team is seeking a fight with one of the Klitschko brothers. He and Wladimir will be fighting within days of each other in December, so the time might be right for those two to lock horns in the spring instead of Vitali-Adamek, which had been much-rumored for March.

There's also still the chance that after the eliminator, someone will not be able to fight within 100 days, and you'd be foolish to count out that possibility. Arena Box's Ahmet Oner says he's concerned that Vitali will retire after his next bout, but really Vitali hasn't said much about the possibility, and the way he's fighting, there's no end in sight unless he chooses to retire at what would be a young 39 or 40 for him.

Oner also promises that should his fighter (Solis) win in December, you won't see a repeat of past would-be Klitschko challengers: "We wanted to make it very clear that Solis is none of the Povetkins or Hayes who duck the Klitschkos and wait for them to retire. Solis has been waiting for a long time to get his hands on Vitali and he wants to be the man to take the championship belt from him and actually retire him from boxing. Vitali tried everything he could to avoid the fight because he knows that Solis is one of very few fighters in the world who can actually beat him."

So, in short: Vitali wants the fight the most people want to see, Don King and Jose Sulaiman cry each other a river, Sulaiman relates that nobody understands him and runs to his room and slams the door and plays The Cure for a little while, Sulaiman comes back with a cooler head and reveals he was just kidding about that wonderful threat to leave boxing, and we get a less attractive fight later on. Boxing! Yaaaay!

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