- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, who already has postponed his mandatory title defense against former champion Hasim Rahman three times this year because of injuries, has done so yet again after suffering a training injury on Friday.
Klitschko, who was scheduled to face Rahman Nov. 12 in Las Vegas in the biggest heavyweight fight of the year, injured his right knee while sparring in Los Angeles, adviser Shelly Finkel said.
Rahman manager Steve Nelson, who is with Rahman at his training camp in Oregon, said he hoped Klitschko wouldn't bail out again.
"It's normal in the sport of boxing to have bumps and bruises," Nelson said. "There is no reason why he can't fight. Let's have Klitschko be a man and get in the ring and fight. Fighters fight through pain. Rock has done it. It's part of the game. Let's hope he's a man and goes through with the fight."
Citing various back and leg injuries, Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs) already has postponed the fight three times. It was supposed to take place in April, then June and then July, but each time Klitschko postponed.
Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs), tired of waiting for the fight, claimed the interim WBC title in August when he outpointed Monte Barrett.
When the Klitschko and Rahman sides could not agree to a new deal for the bout, it went to a purse bid and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who does not promote either fighter, surprised the boxing industry with a winning bid of $12.001 million, beating Rahman promoter Don King's $11 million offer and two others.
Both fighters are in line for a substantial payday if the fight is staged. Klitschko is due a minimum $7.8 million. Rahman, who recently declared bankruptcy, needs his $4.2 million payday even more.
Injuries have kept Klitschko sidelined since his first title defense on Dec. 11, 2004, an eighth-round knockout of Danny Williams.
Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko injured his right knee sparring, endinf any chance he will fight in a scheduled Nov. 12 bout with Hasim Rahman.