- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Former heavyweight title challenger and Cuban 2004 Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis (18-1, 12 KOs), welterweight contender Selcuk Aydin (23-2, 17 KOs) and former heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev will all be featured on a card in Berlin, Germany on Friday. The card will be televised on Eurosport throughout Europe.
Solis will face Leif Larsen (17-0, 14 KOs) of Norway, Turkey's Aydin will meet Giuseppe Lauri (53-11, 31 KOs) of Italy, and Chagaev (30-2-1, 19 KOs), of Uzbekistan, will take on American Mike Sheppard (20-14-1, 9 KOs).
"It feels good to be back in Germany," said Solis, who defected there. "I started my pro career over here and still have lots of friends in Berlin. In my last fight in Germany [in March 2011], I suffered a bad [knee] injury when challenging [heavyweight titlist] Vitali Klitschko. But now my knee is well again. I am ready to go and want to prove that I am the best heavyweight fighter in the world."
Aydin is trying to get back on track after back-to-back decision losses to Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass. Chagaev is looking for his fourth consecutive victory since a decision loss to Alexander Povetkin for a vacant belt in August 2011.
• Ukraine junior middleweight Taras Shelestyuk, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, has signed with Banner Promotions, the company announced.
Shelestyuk was a three-time Ukrainian national champion, a 2010 bronze medalist in the European championships and a 2011 world amateur champion in the 152-pound weight division. As an amateur, Shelestyuk, 27, went 195-15. He is scheduled to make his pro debut March 29 in Verona, N.Y., on the ESPN/WatchESPN "Friday Night Fights" card headlined by middleweight Brian Vera against Donatas Bondoravas.
"We are very excited to add Taras to our roster," Banner Promotions chief Artie Pelullo said. "We have big plans for Taras and we feel he will become a world champion."
• According to the New York State Athletic Commission, the March 9 card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which was headlined by Bernard Hopkins' win against Tavoris Cloud to break his own record for becoming the oldest fighter (48) to ever win a world title, generated a gate of $611,974 from 9,377 tickets sold. There were 826 complimentary tickets given away.
• Epix officially added two more fights to its schedule this week. It will air light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly's mandatory defense against Robin Krasniqi from London on April 20 and heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's defense against Francesco Pianeta from Mannheim, Germany on May 4. Cleverly-Krasniqi was originally supposed to be part of the March 16 card headlined by the lightweight unification match between Ricky Burns and Miguel Vazquez. But Burns-Vazquez was canceled and the rest of the card postponed. Besides the cable channel, the fights will also stream live and free on EpixHD.com and on the Epix app on Xbox consoles and Roku players.
• Last Saturday's epic battle between welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Ruslan Provodnikov was so good that HBO made the unprecedented move of scheduling a primetime replay on the main network. There will be an encore presentation Sunday night (10:35 ET/PT). It will be immediately followed by a replay of "Road to Rios-Alvarado II," which previews the much-anticipated March 30 rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado.
According to HBO, the live broadcast of Bradley-Provodnikov -- a riveting fight of the year candidate in which Bradley won a tight decision after surviving nearly being knocked out in the first and second rounds and a knockdown in the final 15 seconds of the bout -- drew 1.2 million viewers (the same number that tuned in the previous week for Hopkins-Cloud). Bradley-Provodnikov peaked at 1.4 million viewers, HBO said. And then there were another 274,000 viewers who tuned into the Sunday morning replay, a 57 percent improvement over the comparable replay of Hopkins-Cloud. HBO said that its four boxing telecasts this year rank as the top four performing televised boxing events on cable for the year.
Former heavyweight title challenger and Cuban 2004 Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis (18-1, 12 KOs), welterweight contender Selcuk Aydin (23-2, 17 KOs) and former heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev will all be featured on a card in Berlin, Germany on Friday.