Less than two weeks before Wladimir Klitschko was due to defend his heavyweight championships against Kubrat Pulev in Germany, the fight is off. Klitschko announced his withdrawal from the bout Monday morning, citing an injury suffered during training.
"I am very disappointed the fight will not go ahead," Klitschko said in a statement, per Reuters. "I am in top form and had a great training camp."
The Reuters report indicates he suffered a torn biceps, which will limit his range of motion and punching power. Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager, confirmed the injury to ESPN's Dan Rafael, indicating he'll miss at least four weeks of training.
"He had problems on Friday and he first thought it's a minor thing, but he went to the hospital near the camp [in Austria] and there they detected this torn muscle," Boente said. "He was in top shape and he had perfect sparring partners. He did a long preparation and is sorry to have to postpone the fight."
The Ukrainian was scheduled to defend his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring heavyweight championships against Pulev, who became the mandatory challenger last year. Pulev, 33, has not lost in 20 professional fights and has stopped five of his last six fights before getting to the judges scorecards. He defeated Ivica Perkovic via a referee technical decision in the third round of their April fight.
Because this was a mandatory defense, Klitschko and Pulev will reschedule the bout for a later date. An ESPN report indicated a two-month wait is likely, with an early-November date seeming most likely.
"We hope to reschedule the bout in the same arena in mid-November, probably Nov. 15," Boente said.
Assuming the timeframe is accurate, Klitschko will enter his fight against Pulev having not lost in more than a decade. He has won and/or defended a championship in 18 consecutive bouts, and has held all five of the titles he'll defend versus Pulev since a 2011 win over David Haye. Klitschko last fought in April, earning a fifth-round TKO over Australian Alex Leapai.
Ten of Klitschko's last 12 fights have been held in Germany. Hamburg's O2 World Arena is scheduled to host, where the champion calls his home base, will host the bout with Pulev. Klitschko, whose reign atop the men's heavyweight division has helped wane interest in the United States, has not fought in North America in eight years.
One of the most powerful and cerebral fighters in the world, Klitschko has rarely even come close to losing a bout during his run atop the sport. It'll be interesting to see if this setback in training leaves a window open for Pulev to pull the upset.
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