SPORTARENA.COM HAS SINCE CONFIRMED THAT KLITSCHKO's RETURN IS AN APRIL FOOL'S JOKE.
By Keith Idec
Wladimir Klitschko couldn’t resist the temptation.
Sportarena.com, a Ukrainian website, reported Monday that the 43-year-old former heavyweight champion has committed to making a comeback next month. The outlet reported that the Ukrainian-born Klitschko has agreed to return to the ring May 25 against an undetermined opponent as part of a three-fight deal with DAZN that’ll guarantee him a total of approximately $120 million.
Klitschko’s return reportedly will take place at Olympic Stadium in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. His older brother, former WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko, is mayor of Kiev.
Sportarena.com’s story also indicated that the DAZN deal eventually could include a fight against a top heavyweight, presumably Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury. Only Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), who stopped Klitschko nearly two years ago, has had one of his fights streamed by DAZN.
The well-funded, fledgling streaming service will offer Joshua’s optional title defense against Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on June 1 from Madison Square Garden in New York.
Two weeks earlier, Showtime will air a bout between Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), the WBC champion, and mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. On June 15, ESPN+ will stream a 12-round bout between England’s Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), who upset Klitschko in November 2015, and Germany’s Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs).
The 6-feet-6, 245-pound Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) hasn’t fought since his unforgettable slugfest with Joshua in April 2017.
Klitschko came back from a fifth-round knockdown to drop England’s Joshua in the sixth round of that epic encounter. Joshua recovered, floored Klitschko twice more and won that bout by 11th-round technical knockout.
Joshua-Klitschko, which drew a capacity crowd of roughly 90,000 to London’s Wembley Stadium, was voted “Fight of the Year” for 2017 by the Boxing Writers Association of America. It also marked the end of Klitschko’s 11-year reign as IBF heavyweight champion, which began when he stopped Chris Byrd in the seventh round of their April 2006 bout in Mannheim, Germany.
Rumors have circulated regarding Klitschko’s return in recent months, but the former IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO champion repeatedly denied that he would return to the ring. Speculation intensified in recent weeks when photos from Klitschko’s training sessions appeared on the Internet.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.