World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko would like to make one thing perfectly clear: He has always wanted to fight Hasim Rahman.
“I read things, but I do not believe what I am reading,” Klitschko said. “Three months ago (April 20), a press release was sent out on my behalf stating that I would be ready to fight again in September. It included a letter from my doctor, Dr. Hyun Bae of Los Angeles.
“I am the world heavyweight champion. I am not ducking any fighters, especially Rahman. I want to prove that I am the best, but to be the best you have to fight the best. I read things that are totally unbelievable.’’
Shelly Finkel, an advisor to the Klitschko brothers, says that two weeks after the Klitschko press release, Don King convinced the WBC to hold a heavyweight fight for the interim championship on July 23.
“No matter what Don tells you, he then changed it from July 23 to Aug. 13, leaving Vitali no time to fight the winner on Sept. 24,” Finkel said.
“What television network could program a fight of this magnitude – any heavyweight title fight – on six weeks notice, without knowing the winner or potential injury to the winner?” said Bernd Boente, Klitschko Brothers Personal Manager and longtime former television executive. “The answer is zero. None would. It is totally unfeasible, and Don King knew that.’’
In regard to King’s comments that Klitschko is afraid of Rahman, Finkel said: “I really don’t know where Don is coming from on this. Rahman has done absolutely nothing recently to strike fear in any top-notch heavyweight, much less the heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko.
“Look at Rahman’s last six fights,” Finkel continued. “He lost to John Ruiz. He could not knock out Al Cole, a blown up light heavyweight who Klitschko once sent home from sparring, and had to settle for a decision. He beat the dreaded Mario Cawley, who had lost six in a row, four by knockout, and Rob Calloway, a 36-year-old from Kansas that no one knows, and Terrance Lewis, who was 31-15 and had lost six of his last seven fights. Then, in an eliminator for the WBC No. 1 position, Rahman beat Kali Meehan, a fighter who was knocked out in one round by Danny Williams.
“Going off those fights, does anyone really believe Vitali is afraid of Hasim? What is perplexing to me is that Rahman is fighting Monte Barrett next month and Don promotes them both. You would think that he only promotes Rahman and that he already won the fight.’’
Added Finkel: “When the WBC sanctioned Vitali to fight the winner of Rahman-Barrett at a 65 percent-35 percent split, Vitali was willing to go directly to the winner. This is the split we originally agreed with Rahman and King on. They sure went through a lot to end up where they began.’’
Finkel says the press release distributed last week purporting to be from the WBC was made by King. “Check the WBC website to see the real one,” Finkel said.