Wladimir Klitschko’s near-10-year heavyweight title reign did not feature many complications, with the towering Ukrainian winning almost every round against a spate of mostly overmatched contenders.
However, his first year since 2005 without the lineal heavyweight crown has not gone nearly as smoothly, and Monday’s development will ensure the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer will not fight in 2016. Klitschko suffered an injury in training for a Dec. 10 fight, which still did not have a set opponent, and has pulled out of that date, ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reports.
The nature of the injury has not been disclosed, but a source informed Rafael it’s a calf ailment that will sideline the former longtime champion.
This will stall a Klitschko-Anthony Joshua bout, one the fighters’ camps have been negotiating for weeks after the Tyson Fury saga ended up leaving Klitschko in need of an opponent, but it won’t take it off the table. The two sides are still negotiating a fight for early 2017, according to Rafael. So, this falls in the same category as the rumored Gennady Golovkin-Danny Jacobs middleweight title fight, with the two sides tabling negotiations for an early-2017 fight.
Klitschko (64-4) was reportedly waiting on the WBA to see if it would sanction a fight for its title for Dec. 10 against Joshua, who now may need another opponent of his own unless he wants to wait for him to recover. That fight had not been agreed upon, but the potentially momentous matchup between heavyweights heading in opposite directions was gaining steam.
This will mark the first year the younger Klitschko hasn’t fought since he turned pro in 1996. Klitschko has fought multiple times in every year this decade save for 2011, when his lone defense came against David Haye. He faced Bryant Jennings and Fury in 2015, with the latter bout producing a putrid fight that ended with Fury dethroning Klitschko. Fury postponed the rematch twice before the champion’s drug and depression problems ultimately cancelled it.