Holyfield replaces Chagaev as Ibragimov's opponent

Updated: August 2, 2007, 8:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The heavyweight division's first unification title fight since 1999? So much for that. But the October card in Moscow will go on -- thanks to Evander Holyfield.

WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev, who was scheduled to meet WBO titleholder Sultan Ibragimov on Oct. 13 in Moscow, withdrew from the fight Thursday because of an undisclosed stomach ailment, a source involved in the fight said.

Following Chagaev's decision to not fight, Ibragimov's promoters announced that Holyfield would fill the card in a quest to win the the heavyweight title for a fifth time. Holyfield will be fighting in Russia for the first time.

"This will be an unforgettable night," said Leon Margules, executive director of Seminole Warriors Boxing.

Broadcast plans have not been determined.

The 44-year-old Holyfield (42-8-2, 27 KOs) last fought on June 30, when he won a 10-round unanimous decision from Lou Savarese in El Paso, Tecas, to remain undefeated in his latest comeback.

Ibragimov, 32, of Russia, is 21-0-1 with 17 KOs.

There hasn't been a recognized world heavyweight champion since the retirement of Lennox Lewis in January 2004. For the division, there hasn't been a unification fight since Lewis became the undisputed champion by defeating Holyfield in their November 1999 rematch.

Ibragimov won the WBO version of the heavyweight title on June 2 with a lopsided unanimous decision against Shannon Briggs in Atlantic City, N.J.

"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."

Information from ESPN.com boxing writer Dan Rafael was used in this report.

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