Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Holyfield to fight Russian for title


Heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield looks at the punching mitts of trainer Ronnie Shields during a workout on June 25 in El Paso, Texas, before his fight against Lou Savarese on June 30.


Evander Holyfield can become a world heavyweight champion for the fifth time when he fights Russia's Sultan Ibragimov on Oct. 13 in Moscow.

Six days before his 45th birthday, Holyfield will fight for the lesser-regarded World Boxing Organization (WBO) crown after the withdrawal of Uzbek Ruslan Chagaev, the World Boxing Association champion, from a scheduled fight with the undefeated Ibragimov.

Holyfield would not become the oldest champion in heavyweight history. George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994 at 45 years and nearly 10 months of age to claim the WBA and International Boxing Federation titles.

"This is the first step on my quest to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and I'm glad Sultan Ibragimov was willing to step up and give me a shot," Holyfield said. "I'm looking forward to fighting in Moscow for the first time and winning my fifth heavyweight title there."

Holyfield, 42-8 with two drawn and 27 knockouts, last fought for a world title in 2002 when fellow US fighter Chris Byrd won a unanimous 12-round decision for the vacant IBF crown.

In 2004, the New York State Athletic Commission banned Holyfield from boxing in the state but amended the suspension the next year so he could return to the ring in other places.

Since then, Holyfield has won four fights in a row in his comeback bid, the most recent a unanimous decision over US rival Lou Savarese on June 30.

Ibragimov, 21-0 with one draw and 17 knockouts, won a silver medal for Russia at the 2000 Olympics. He took the WBO throne from US fighter Shannon Briggs in June.

"Of course I'm disappointed that Chagaev pulled out of our fight and won't allow me to unify our titles, but fighting a legend like Evander Holyfield is even better," Ibragimov said.

"And though I respect what he has done in his career, once the bell rings it will be all business, because he is trying to take what I have worked so hard for -- my world championship," he said.

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