Rappaport: Klitschko-Maskaev discussions ongoing!

By G. Leon


Rappaport: Klitschko-Maskaev discussions ongoing!

GL: Can you give us some thoughts on the eliminator that took place last weekend between Samuel Peter and James Toney for the right to be enforced as Oleg's mandatory challenger? "I think most people who reviewed the fight came up with the wrong conclusion. People are saying that Peter looked terrific, I think that he looked good but with Toney he had a dead man walking. I remember some time ago Sugar Ray Leonard brought in Billy Blanks and he got stopped by Hector Camacho. He didn't get stopped by Hagler or Hearns, but he got stopped by Camacho and that should have triggered something. Toney was much faster than Peter the first time, but this time he was flat and had nothing. Maybe it was too many lima beans but the man had nothing. I think this fight was more of Toney having nothing than Peter improving."

GL: Peter is the mandatory now and he is expected to be Oleg's next opponent by most in boxing. Is he expected to be Oleg's opponent as far as you're concerned as well?

Dennis Rappaport: "Let me say this to you, first of all I'm not convinced that he's going to be his next opponent. I am still waiting to hear from the WBC about the Klitschko fight. There have been a tremendous amount of people from the mayor of Moscow and other dignitaries have already written to the WBC telling them that unification is the way to go. I know what we're facing and I'm not naive in any way, but according to the WBC rules a unification fight takes priority over a mandatory providing that both participants of the unification agree to fight the mandatory next. All Jose Sulaiman has to do is implement that rule, which is in the scope of his authority and then that fight can take place. It could be the first step towards cleaning up the mess of the heavyweight division. You have a situation where the most coveted prize in boxing has become a laughing stock. How do you correct this mess? Simply, start unifying the championships.

"How badly would a unification bout hurt Peter? Let's think about it, this is Janaury 10. If they announce that Peter is the mandatory and they get the first shot as opposed to the unification, there will be 30 days of free negotiation and the fight wouldn't take place for three or four months. If they allow a unification on April 21...

GL: (cutting in) But aren't both the IBF and WBC mandatories due?

Dennis Rappaport: "Let's put it this way, there is a mandatory with Klitschko and Austin. I believe the IBF's rules clearly state that a unification can override a mandatory. Who wants to see Klitschko fight Austin? He's coming off of a draw and he's fighting Klitschko? Boxing has become a game of who you know, and who's got the connections."

GL: Are your negotiations with Klitschko ongoing?

DR: "We speak almost daily on this and they feel as I do. This is the biggest fight in the heavyweight division and this is a fight that the media wants. There's articles from California to New York with people demanding unification. If Peter were to fight the unified champion he would make more money than he'd get for just fighting Maskaev, plus there would be other ways to sweeten the package that would make it. A Klitschko-Masakev fight is huge because both of these guys are huge in Russia. There are ways to work this out...

GL: Like offering step aside money for example?

DR: "Well, yeah. But I think everyone can agree that this fight is what's best for boxing. A heavyweight unification is a step in the right direction. There needs to be clarity in this division and there isn't a PPV vehicle at heavyweight, why? Because people don't know who the champion is. If we don't start doing something to correct this mess we're going to see more and more MMA and Ultimate Fighting. Boxing was far more popular that football or basketball and now it's just something that's on the backburner and only turns up once in a while. The writing is on the wall, it's time for everyone to step up to the plate. The Klitschko people aren't fooling themselves, this a risky fight, but the rewards are there and this is a step towards doing what's right for heavyweight boxing."

GL: If the WBC enforces the mandatory will Oleg honor their decision?

DR: "If that were to occur we would have to review the situation and act accordingly. I can't say I haven't given any thought to it, but it's a situation that we'll take a look at if it arises. The bottom line is we all know about the problems the heavyweight division has and at this point the solution is unification so if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.


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