Finally, a heavyweight fight boxing fans may actually be willing to pay for.
IBF and WBO heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko confirmed Wednesday night that he will fight WBA champion David Haye on July 2. The venue and network haven't been determined, but Klitschko said he plans to fight three times in 2011.
Klitschko's September bout against Alexander Povetkin was carried on ESPN's family of networks, not on HBO, which had aired many of the champion's fights over the years. HBO and Klitschko severed ties after the network refused to air the Povetkin fight.
Klitschko and his manager Bernd Boente were reportedly so upset with HBO's decision not to broadcast the Povetkin fight that they vowed never to fight on the network again.
Klitschko, who was in New York on Wednesday attending a special screening for the new FX series "Lights Out", back tracked from that stance a bit. "ESPN has a great platform and the coverage in the country is even better than Showtime and HBO," Klitschko said. "The bills are shorter of course, but the coverage is better."
Speculation has been rampant that a Klitschko-Haye bout would draw interest from HBO, despite the bad blood between the camps.
Klitschko said he is open to fighting on HBO again or Showtime.
His first tilt of 2011 will be against unbeaten British challenger Dereck Chisora on April 30 in Germany. His second fight, the bout everyone has been waiting for, will be against Haye on July 2.
"It's been cleared that we will fight on July 2," Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) said of a bout with Haye. "We have the TV Date, which is important."
As for Chisora, the two were supposed to fight last December 11, but Klitschko withdrew from the bout citing a stomach injury. Klitschko doesn't have to fight Chisora, because he's not the mandatory opponent. But the Ukrainian resident doesn't want to waste away on the sidelines waiting for his proposed bout with Haye.
"I don't want to wait too long, because my last fight was in September," he said. "I want to stay active. I'm the champion, so I'll take Chisora in April and David Haye in July."
No opponent has been announced for his third fight, set for sometime next fall, but the champ did mention Polish sensation Tomasz Adamek as a possible opponent. Klitschko also expressed a willingness to fight Adamek in the state.
"I know he has a good following here," said Klitschko. "It would draw a lot of people."
Adamek has been a consistent draw at the Prudential Center in Newark. Industry insiders believe a fight against Klitschko at the Prudential Center or at Madison Square Garden would draw a capacity crowd.
Klitschko and Haye were set to fight on June 20, 2009 in Shalke. The fight fell through in part because of an injury to Haye and a disagreement over the split of the purse.