By Rick Reeno
More than a handful of people were surprised when K2 Promotions revealed on Monday morning that HBO bought the American television rights to Vitali Klitschko's upcoming defense of the WBC heavyweight title against Manuel Charr (21-0, 11KOs).
The network aired Vitali's September defense against Tomasz Adamek. But since Vitali's return in 2008, only two of his nine fights have been picked up by HBO.
Vitali's younger brother, WBO/IBF/IBO/WBA champion Wladimir Klitschko, was last seen on the HBO airwaves in July of 2011, when he dominated David Haye over twelve rounds.
Kery Davis, the senior vice president of sports programming at HBO, told BoxingScene.com that he was very happy to have Vitali back on the network.
The upcoming defense against Charr could very well be Vitali's last professional fight. Vitali (44-2, 40KOs) will hit the campaign trail in October, attempting to become the mayor of Kiev. If he wins the election, Vitali has already promised to retire from boxing in order to fully focus on his political career.
However, Vitali's potential year-end retirement was only a minor factor in the overall decision to purchase his fight, says Davis.
Vitali-Charr, which takes place on September 8th in Moscow, Russia - will air on HBO in a delayed capacity as the lead-in fight for the live televised doubleheader from the Oracle in Oakland, California. Andre Ward will defend his super middleweight title against Chad Dawson in the main event, and lightweights Antonio DeMarco and John Molina will collide in the co-feature.
"We have a main event with two of the best fighters in the world. Opening up with a Klitschko fight makes the whole night bigger," Davis told BoxingScene.com.
According to Davis, when Klitschko decisioned Haye last year, the network made a deal with the heavyweight brothers to air subsequent fights - as long as they fit the schedule.
The Klitschko brothers produce good ratings for HBO, says Davis. He cites scheduling issues with German network RTL as the official reason for HBO's inability to air several of the recent bouts involving both brothers.