Boxing: Lewis to defend WBC title against Klitschko

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The Independent Online

Lennox Lewis will defend his world heavyweight title against Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine, according to his manager.

"I am here to announce officially that Lennox Lewis will fight against [Vitali] Klitschko for the WBC title," Adrian Ogun said after meeting the German promoter, Klaus-Peter Kohl, here. Ogun added that he still has to clear the final details with the pay-television channel HBO before announcing the venue and date. It is likely to be at the end of February or the beginning of March in the United States.

Kohl, who also promotes Vitali's younger brother Vladimir, also a heavyweight fighter, said he would meet HBO officials in the next few days and was hoping to sign a contract with them before mid-December.

Lewis successfully defended his WBC and IBF titles with a devastating eighth-round knock-out of Mike Tyson on 8 June. The 37-year-old Briton relinquished his IBF crown last September because he had no interest in a mandatory defence against the No 1 contender, America's Chris Byrd.

There had been speculation that Lewis, whose record is 40 wins (31 knock-outs) two defeats and a draw, might retire after the Tyson fight but Ogun said: "He thought about it but he is still hungry."

Klitschko, 31, has won 32 of his 33 professional fights, 31 by knock-out, and has held the lightly-regarded WBO title. He cleared the last hurdle for the fight by knocking out the American Larry Donald last week.

German-based, he has been looking forward to a big fight for years but his plans were delayed when he lost his WBO title to Byrd in April 2000. He is considered a dangerous puncher but has yet to be tested against a big-name fighter.

Vladimir, 26, who defends his WBO crown next month, also hoped to challenge Lewis. The former Olympic champion is regarded as the most gifted brother. Lewis once said he could have one of them for breakfast and the other for lunch and will start favourite but Kohl said: "Lewis might be careful he doesn't swallow his breakfast the wrong way."