By Igor Lazorin, tass
After weeks of hunting, former world champion Alexander Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) has secured a backup opponent - in the event that his scheduled foe Christian Hammer (22-4, 12 KOs) withdraws from their fight for any reason.
Povetkin's handlers were hoping to secure BJ Flores (34-3-1, 21 KOs), who had little interest in signing a deal as a backup opponent.
With Flores out, a deal has been reached with Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10 KOs), who earlier this year was in the running to fight WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker.
Povetkin's showdown with Hammer takes place on December 15 in Russia.
At their recent annual convention, the World Boxing Organization sanctioned Povetkin vs. Hammer as a final WBO eliminator for a world title shot at Parker.
Hammer is currently the number one ranked fighter under the WBO, while Povetkin is ranked at six and also holds the WBO's International title.
Back in September Parker retained his world title with a close twelve round majority decision over mandatory challenger Hughie Fury.
But if something goes wrong with the fight, the promoters will use Fujimoto, who is ranked right behind Povetkin at number 7 in the WBO's top ten.
RCC Boxing Promotion CEO Alexei Titov confirmed that the Japanese boxer has officially signed on and is waiting in the wings to step in. Fujimoto has been undefeated since 2012, when he suffered his only career defeat,
"Fujimoto signed a contract," Titov said.
2016 was the worst year in Povetkin's career. The boxer tested positive, twice, when he was days away from a fight and saw those opportunities fall apart. First, planned May collision with WBC champion Deontay Wilder fell out less than two weeks before the fight after Povetkin failed a drug test. Then he was set in December to fight Bermane Stiverne in a final eliminator, which also fell out after a failed test result on the morning of the fight.