Chagaev finally fit to return

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Circle Feb. 7 on your calendar.

WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev will return to the ring for the first time in nearly two years to take on unbeaten challenger Carl Davis Drumond in Rostock, Germany.

The PPV card, presented by Integrated Sports and Universum Boxing Promotions, will also feature the WBA light welterweight title bout between champion Andreas Kotelnik and undefeated No. 1 contender Marcos Rene Maidana, as well as hot Russian prospect Denis Boytsov against a challenger to be determined for the vacant WBA intercontinental heavyweight championship.

Injuries have been the only thing to beat Chagaev (24-0-1, 17 KOs), the 2000 Uzbekistan Olympian and The Ring's No. 3 rated heavyweight, who captured the WBA crown on April 14, 2007, with a 12-round decision over seven-foot-one Russian giant Nikolai Valuev.

Chagaev has fought only once since then, winning a 12-round decision against Britain's Matt Skelton a year ago. An Achilles tendon injury prevented him from defending his belt in a rematch with Valuev (who was awarded the interim title), and the WBA has stipulated that the two must fight no later than June 26 for the outright WBA championship.

Drumond (26-0, 20 KOs), promoted by Miami-based Warriors Seminole Boxing, fights out of Costa Rica and presently is rated No. 10 by the WBA. He's the former IBF and WBO Latino champion.

For my money, Chagaev, with his straight-ahead style and lethal body punching, is the only heavyweight on the planet with a realistic chance of beating one or both of the Klitschko brothers.

How he fares against the big-punching Drummond should provide some clues as to how much rust his injuries have built up.

OH, HAYE CAN YOU SEE?

Speaking of the dynamic duo from Ukraine, Britain's David Haye is turning his attention to Wladimir Klitschko now that he won't get a bout against Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title.

Haye and Vitali Klitschko had agreed a June 20 fight in London, but the champ has to make a mandatory defence against Juan Carlos Gomez on March 31.

Haye, a former world cruiserweight champion who looked impressive in winning his first fight at heavyweight against Monte Barrett in November, has switched his attention to Wladimir, who owns the IBF and WBO titles.

A spokesman for Haye said in London this week that Wladimir's proposed March defence against Chris Arreola has not been finalized -- which means he could end up fighting Haye, sooner rather than later.

CANADA'S BOXING CAPITAL

Nine Edmonton fighters are ranked in the January ratings from the Canadian Boxing Federation: Sheldon Hinton (No. 8, heavweight); James Cermak (No. 4, cruiserweight); Jason Delaronde (No. 3, super middleweight); Kris Andrews (No. 5, middleweight); Tony Badea (No. 7, middleweight); Anthony Lessard (No. 5, super welterweight); Trevor Moyah (No. 7, super welterweight); Darelle Sukerow (No. 3, super lightweight) and Omar Valdez (No. 2, super bantamweight).

MARQUEZ WANTS PACQUIAO

Juan Manuel Marquez believes the road to a third fight with Manny Pacquiao goes through Juan Diaz.

The two lightweights appeared at a news conference in Diaz's hometown of Houston yesterday to promote their Feb. 28 fight at the Toyota Center.

The 35-year-old Marquez (49-4-1, 36 KOs) fought Pacquiao to a draw in 2004, then dropped a close decision to the Filipino flash last March in Las Vegas.

"There is a reason he (Pacquiao) doesn't want to fight me again," the Mexican-born Marquez said through an interpreter. "But that's the fight I've wanted, I've made no secret of it."

Pacquiao's camp is reportedly close to securing a 140-pound fight with Britain's Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Diaz (34-1, 17 KOs), who unified the lightweight title in 2007 only to lose his belts to Nate Campbell last spring, hasn't fought since stopping Michael Katsidis in Houston in September.


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