Sergei Liakhovich returns to action

6/2/2011 - Boxing

Former heavyweight titlist Sergei Liakhovich returns to action to face rising contender Robert Helenius on July 16 in Munich, Germany, promoter Main Events announced.

Liakhovich, 35, who signed earlier this year with Main Events, was supposed to end an 11-month layoff by fighting April 9 on the Tomasz Adamek-Kevin McBride undercard. However, Liakhovich withdrew because of a rib injury in the final week of training.

"I was very disappointed I had to cancel my (April) fight, but I believe what happens is always for a reason, and sometimes things turn out the way you did not expect," Liakhovich said. "I am glad I have this opportunity and I will take full advantage of it. I'm working again with trainer Kenny Weldon, who was in my corner when I won the WBO title, and doing things that I had stopped. We've also been working on a few new things to prepare for this fight. I think it's going to be a very good fight with two guys putting everything on the line."

Helenius (15-0, 10 KOs), 27, who's from Norway but based in Germany, is one of the fastest-rising heavyweight contenders.

He scored his best victory April 2 when he starched former titleholder Samuel Peter in the ninth round. He also sent former titlist Lamon Brewster into retirement after stopping him in the eighth round in January 2010.

"This is what being a true champion really is about," Liakhovich said. "I believe you have to take risks to get greater results. Boxing is the best of all sports but its core is in earning respect as a fighter. I think you can accomplish that by taking risks. I had to do that in the past when I fought Dominick Guinn, who was America's top heavyweight hope at that time, and nobody gave me a chance when I went against Lamon Brewster. Both times taking risks paid off for me and this is not any different.

"My opponent is a good fighter. He proved that he deserves to be in the top 10 of the world by defeating Brewster and Peter. But he's never faced anybody with my skills."

Liakhovich (25-3, 16 KOs) had other opportunities, such as fighting on the undercards of Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko's upcoming title defenses followed by a title shot against one of them, but he insisted on facing Helenius, believing a win would make a championship fight more lucrative.

"From the moment he was offered the match with Helenius, he absolutely demanded that we make the fight," Kathy Duva of Main Events said. "There are very few elite professional boxers who are willing to put everything on the line without a moment's hesitation, as Sergei did, and accept such a challenge."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.