Wladimir Klitschko ready for fight
It's been tough for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to find opponents of late, but at least one fighter is willing to step into the ring with him.
England's Dereck Chisora (14-0, 9 KOs) signed on for a fight on Monday, according to Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager.
"I think it's an interesting fight because a guy who is unbeaten is always an interesting opponent," Boente told ESPN.com. "He has a very good record and Wladimir and [trainer] Emanuel [Steward] watched some of Chisora's fights on YouTube and they said he's fast and can punch. They were impressed. They said he can definitely punch, has good hand speed and is mobile, and that always [makes for] a dangerous opponent."
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Though Klitschko will be the heavy favorite -- as he usually is -- in the Dec. 11 fight in Mannheim, Germany at the SAP Arena, he said he would not look past Chisora, a 26-year-old native of Zimbabwe now living in England.
"I know that Dereck Chisora is a very dangerous opponent," Klitschko said. "He's young, he's fast and he's a very hard puncher. My coach, Emanuel Steward, has warned me about Chisora's quality and reminded me about the great Muhammad Ali, who lost his championship in 1978 to Leon Spinks in his eighth professional fight. I won't underestimate Chisora. I will prepare myself as intensely as I always do and try to give Chisora no chance."
Despite thin professional experience, Chisora, the British and Commonwealth champion, has recorded his most notable wins in his past two fights. He knocked out Sam Sexton in the ninth round of their rematch on Sept. 18 and in March scored a second-round knockout of Danny Williams, who owns a knockout win against Mike Tyson but was stopped by Vitali Klitschko in a 2004 title bout.
"I knew that my victory over Sam Sexton would be a big step in the world rankings, but this chance is unbelievable," Chisora said. "Everybody thinks my chances against Klitschko are as good as a snowball's chance in hell, but I don't care. I have fought my whole life and I am ready for a battle. This will be my night and by the end of this year the whole world will know the name Dereck Chisora."
After a shoulder injury limited Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) to just one fight in 2009, he will be fighting for the third time this year when he makes the 10th defense of what has been a dominant title reign. Already this year he has knocked out Eddie Chambers in the 12th round in March and knocked out Samuel Peter in the 10th round of their rematch on Sept. 11.
Other opponents considered for the fight were Alexander Dimitrenko, David Tua and former cruiserweight champ-turned heavyweight Jean Marc Mormeck, Boente said.
Klitschko said he was happy to return to the SAP Arena, where he knocked out Chris Byrd and made title defenses against former champ Hasim Rahman and Ray Austin.
"The atmosphere at all my fights in Mannheim is great," Klitschko, 34, said. "I will always link the SAP Arena with winning my second world championship there against Chris Byrd. It is one of the highlights of my career."
The deal for Klitschko's fight with Chisora comes just five days before brother Vitali Klitschko defends his version of the heavyweight title against former champion Shannon Briggs on Saturday (ESPN3.com, 5 p.m. ET) in Hamburg, Germany.
The deal Monday ends a long search for Klitschko's next opponent.
He has already mowed down most of the top fighters in the division other than his brother, fellow champion Vitali Klitschko, whom he says he will never fight.
Two top opponents have avoided Klitschko -- titleholder David Haye and Alexander Povetkin. Haye has called him out for the past couple of years, but refused to fight him, even pulling out after signing a contract for a June 2009 bout. Povetkin, a mandatory challenger for two years, was supposed to meet Klitschko on Sept. 11, but gave up the title shot and a career-high $2 million-plus purse after trainer Teddy Atlas said he needed more seasoning.
Two other top contenders, Nikolai Valuev and Tomasz Adamek, are not available. Valuev, a former titlist, is on the shelf after arm surgery. Adamek has another fight scheduled.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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