Boxing: Klitschko faces serious test

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The Independent Online

It has been an unprecedented six weeks in boxing with four big fights being scrapped and Ruslan Chagaev will benefit from the chaos when he fights Wladimir Klitschko for a trio of heavyweight belts in front of 60,000 tonight at the Veltins Arena, here in Gelsenkirchen.

Klitschko was due to fight David Haye tonight and at the end of May, Chagaev was just 22 hours away from fighting Nikolay Valuev before blood tests, bad backs, bad luck and desperate negotiating took over.

Haye withdrew with a pain in his back, Chagaev failed a final medical in Helsinki and the lawyers and TV executives went furiously to work to bring the two German-based boxers together. Chagaev had been the World Boxing Association champion but injured his Achilles last year when preparing to fight Valuev, who he had beaten to win the title in 2007.

It now seems that the WBA has made Valuev their champion, leaving Chagaev to fight Klitschko at just 13 days notice for the World Boxing Organisation, International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organisation titles. Haye, whose back is now better, will be ringside to claim a fight with the winner, but he could be kept waiting for a long, long time.

Klitschko, as usual will be taller (5 inches) and heavier (nearly two stone), but is unlikely to find Chagaev quite as passive as his last five American challengers. Chagaev, who is unbeaten in 26 fights, has a real chance of winning.

He has to trundle forward using his lack of height to his advantage, much the same way that Mike Tyson once did, and somehow force Klitschko, who admits that he puts safety before entertainment, to fight and commit with punches. Klitschko will probably survive to sneak a tight win.