By Mark Staniforth
Boxing fans have become accustomed to heavyweight disappointments, but the failures of both David Haye and Odlanier Solis to remotely trouble the Klitschko brothers makes this year more dismal than most.
Hopes had been high for some time that former world amateur champion Solis would prove himself the man capable of spearheading a new generation of heavyweight talent, with Haye very much part of the vanguard.
But Solis was forced out in the first round of his fight with the elder Klitschko in March due to a serious knee injury, while Haye went on to deliver a below-par performance against Wladimir.
Haye, having proved himself spectacularly unable to live up to his pre-fight boasts, and compounded his error by choosing to blame an injured toe, faces a painful future re-establishing his heavyweight credentials.
But to a large extent, the derision heaped upon Solis - seen by some as another seeking a quick get-out clause in the manner of Bruce Seldon, who notoriously took a 10-count against Mike Tyson without being hit - was unfair.
While his promoter's protestations that in the two and a bit minutes Solis stayed upright against Klitschko he did enough to prove he would win the fight are clearly absurd, it is clear he remains a fighter with talent.
The worst levelled at Solis prior to the Klitschko fight was that he was lazy and lacked motivation. Against Klitschko, he looked trimmer and more focused than he had for some time.
Three knee surgeries later, Solis will begin his heavyweight comeback on October 14 in Berlin against Varol Vekiloglu. It is just possible that his chastening experience against Klitschko could do his attitude the world of good.
"I can't wait to get back in the ring," said Solis. "Until I fought Vitali I was merely a mercenary soldier. Now that I know how easy it is to become a champion of the world this is what I want and what I'm working and living for."
Heavyweight boxing needs the likes of Solis to live up to their boasts and fast. Since he and Haye were shunted aside, the Klitschkos have been left looking round forlornly for their next heavyweight challenge.
Solis, for all his suspect temperament, has not become a bad fighter overnight. He was hyped up for the Klitschko fight as a man who many believed had a real chance of wresting the title from the Ukrainian's grasp.
Assuming his knee injury is now in the past, if Solis were to pull off a few impressive wins and tempt one of the Klitschkos back in the ring again - surely the least he would deserve - there is no reason to suggest he could not challenge again.
Solis' promoter Ahmet Ohner is no shrinking violet when it comes to courting publicity but he remains adamant that his man would triumph given another chance.
"Solis has proved he can actually beat him," Ohner said.
"If his knee hadn't given in he would have won the fight. But we are happy that everything looks to be fine and he will be able to return in October. Odlanier is working very hard for his second chance.
"After I heard the diagnosis I thought the injury might end his career but his knee is developing very well and - most importantly - Odlanier wants to come back as soon as possible. This fight will hopefully get him back on track."
In a perfect world free of promotional politics, Solis and Haye would be paired together in a fight guaranteed to offer the winner a shot at world title redemption. For that we may have to wait a little while longer.
Mark Staniforth covers boxing for Press Association Sport
Tags: Odlanier Solis , David Haye