Ruslan Chagaev is the new opponent of IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on June 20 in the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
WBA Champion Chagaev was engaged after original fighter David Haye had pulled out due to an injury on Wednesday.
"It is sad that David cannot compete. However, I am looking into the future and forward to fighting against Ruslan. He is WBA champion, very experienced and a tough challenger. For my preparation, I have to change my sparring partner from orthodox to southpaw,” sais Wladimir Klitschko.
The 30-year-old Chagaev captured the WBA crown from Russian Nikolay Valuev in 2007 and defended his title twice afterwards. Previously, he had won the WBA elimination bout against former WBA Champion John Ruiz. Chagaev is unbeaten and has a record of 25 wins (17 by KO) and one draw.
"Last week my fight against Valuev was cancelled. Now I am fighting against Wladimir Klitschko in front of 60,000 spectators. I am looking forward to the arena in Schalke, the crowd as well as Klitschko’s three belts which I will take home with me,” says Chagaev.
After Haye’s pull- out, the Klitschko Management Group (KMG) has been working hard to find an equivalent opponent. “We always wanted to stick to June 20 as we do not want to disappoint the Schalke fans. Ruslan Chagaev is reigning WBA champion and a high-class boxer. The fight night in Schalke will take place as planned and I am sure we all will have an unforgettable evening”, says Bernd Bönte, managing director of KMG.
Chagaev promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl (Universum) also weighed in: "This is a huge chance for Ruslan. Negotiations with the Klitschko Management have been very professional and quick. The planned event is simply gigantic and will find its place in the history of boxing.”
All purchased tickets for the fight night on June 20 will still be valid.