IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (61-3, 51 KO’s) and his WBO mandatory challenger Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KO’s) have tentatively agreed to face each other on April 26th in Germany, according to Grantlee Kieza. They have yet to sign the contracts for the fight, so there’s still a chance that the particulars could change a little. But for the most part the two of have agreed to the fight and it looks good for April 26th.
It’s good for Wladimir’s promoters at K2 that the Klitschko vs. Leapai fight didn’t go to purse bids because there was talk of a Russian promoter stepping in and looking to top whatever bid that K2 put up in order to have the fight staged in Australia. It’s unclear how much interest a Klitschko-Leapai fight would bring in Australia, because Leapai isn’t a popular heavyweight.
It might not be worthy going through the trouble of winning the purse bid if there’s no guarantee that Australian boxing fans would give a fig about seeing Leapai face Wladimir. If they know anything about boxing then they would recognize that that Leapai is out of his class in this fight, and not with a good chance of winning.
Leapai beat Denis Boytsov in a WBO heavyweight eliminator bout last November to put himself into the title fight with Wladimir. However, there’s a big difference between Boytsov and the 6’6″ Wladimir, and Leapai won’t be able to do the same things against him. Boytsov, 6’1″, is a small heavyweight who stands in front of his opponents looking to trade shots. Yes, he had an unbeaten record before the Leapai fight, but he also hadn’t fought anyone remotely good to really be tested. It wasn’t such a shock then to see Leapai hand him his first loss of his career.
For Wladimir, this is his first of two mandatory defenses that he has due in 2014. He also has to defend his IBF title against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev. That fight will prove to be a lot harder than the Leapai match-up, because Pulev has good size at 6’4 1/2″, and an excellent jab that he likes to throw a lot. While Pulev’s jab isn’t as good as Wladimir’s, it’s still plenty good to give Wladimir a lot of problems if he chooses to stand on the outside. It’ll be interesting to see who has the longer jab from the outside. My guess is Wladimir, because he’s a little bit taller.
Wladimir doesn’t need to worry about his WBA mandatory because he just beat WBA champion Alexander Povetkin last October, so it’s not necessary for him to defend against his WBA mandatory at this time.