Sebastian Sylvester to defend belt May 7
Middleweight titlist Sebastian Sylvester will make his mandatory defense on May 7 against Australia's Daniel Geale, who will travel to Sylvester's home country of Germany to face him.
The camps struck a deal this week, shortly before a purse bid would have been held to determine who promoted the fight. The bout will take place in Neubrandenburg.
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Sylvester (34-3-1, 16 KOs), who is coming off a lopsided unanimous decision against countryman Mahir Oral in his third title defense in October, was supposed to defend his belt against Mehdi Bouadla in January. However, Sylvester came down with a viral infection a week beforehand and withdrew. Rather than reschedule, Sylvester instead moved on to the mandatory defense against Geale, which was due.
"It was not a good start to the year but I took a long break and now I am ready to fight again," Sylvester said. "I really look forward to returning to Neubrandenburg. I have to make up for the late cancellation last time with an entertaining performance and a big win.
"I am prepared for a tough challenge. As the top-ranked [IBF] contender, Geale poses a big threat. But I will defend my title."
Geale (24-1, 15 KOs) earned the title opportunity by stopping former junior middleweight titlist Roman Karmazin -- who drew with Sylvester last June -- in the 12th round in an October title elimination bout.
"Sylvester is a great champion with multiple defenses to his credit, but this is my time and I won't be denied," Geale said. "As the defending champion, I expect Sylvester to be at the top of his game, but this is my time and I've been preparing mentally for this since November last year after I beat Karmazin to earn the right as the mandatory challenger. It's taken 20 years, 190-plus combined amateur and professional fights [to get a title opportunity]."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.