• Boxing

Vitali Klitschko agrees Solis bout

ESPN staff
January 11, 2011
Vitali Klitschko vanquished Shannon Briggs in his last title defence © Getty Images

WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has agreed a deal to fight Odlanier Solis in Germany on March 19.

The two camps agreed to the deal on Monday, after protracted negotiations over how the purse would be split reached a conclusion. The bout, which is Klitschko's mandatory defence of his WBC crown, further diminishes the chances of a fight between the Ukrainian or his brother and WBA champion David Haye - who is instead scheduled to face his own mandatory challenger, Ruslan Chagaev, in May or June.

Klitschko's younger brother, Wladimir, earlier this year agreed to re-arrange a bout with Englishman Dereck Chisora - originally cancelled due to an injury the champion suffered in training - for April 30.

Vitali Klitschko (41-2, 38 knockouts) will make the sixth title defence of his career against Solis, after overpowering Shannon Briggs last October. At 6 ft 6 in and 250 pounds, the 39-year-old will hold a sizeable height advantage over his 6 ft 1 in, 260-pound opponent.

"I am very happy the deal is done," Klitschko said. "I have heard and read different quotes from Solis saying that I tried to avoid him. This is nonsense. There's a reason why I'm WBC champion and I am proud of holding the same title that Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis held. I will show inside the ring that I am the strongest heavyweight champion and I am 100 per cent sure I will successfully defend my title. But I know Solis is a very tough opponent and I will not underestimate him."

Solis (17-0, 12 KO), a former Olympic gold medallist, earned his shot at the title with a 10th-round disqualification victory over Ray Austin in December. The 30-year-old Cuban, who defected to the United States soon after winning an Olympic gold medal in 2004, has long been calling for a bout with the Klitschkos, and is determined to take his chance now it has been given.

"This is not about money - it's about respect," Solis said. "The Klitschkos seem to think that I am just another opponent like the last tomato cans they cherry-picked so Vitali could easily beat them up. But I am not only the mandatory challenger. I have been the best amateur fighter in the world and I will prove that I am the best professional fighter as well.

"I am not interested in a couple of extra dollars. The only thing I want is to strip the world championship belt from Vitali. Klitschko shouldn't be afraid of losing money; he should only be afraid to lose his title. I will end his career."

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