LONDON – IBF and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko and WBA holder David Haye have finally agreed to fight, setting up an eagerly anticipated heavyweight title bout for this summer.
After months of failed negotiations, both boxers confirmed Sunday the fight should take place on June 25 or July 2 at a venue in Germany that is yet to be confirmed.
"I am really pleased that we have closed a deal on this fight," the 34-year-old Klitschko told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Haye pulled out of a fight with Klitschko in 2009 with a back injury and talks between the two camps have collapsed several times since.
"I always believed we'd one day fight and I'm glad we've cut through the nonsense and put together the most important fight in the heavyweight division," said the 30-year-old Haye, who plans to retire in October.
"This is the match the boxing world has been calling for since I first decided to step into the heavyweight division, and I feel it is my destiny to fight and beat Wladimir Klitschko. We are the best two heavyweights in the world and it would have been a travesty for us to have never fought."
Haye's camp said the deal, which will unify three of the four recognized belts in the division, was struck with Klitschko on Friday.
"Klitschko is ready made for me. I eat tall, chinny Eastern European heavyweights for breakfast. Wladimir is a fighter that doesn't like to fight," said Haye, who won the WBA belt by defeating Russian giant Nikolay Valuev in November 2009 and since then has successfully defended his title twice.
"The terms were right, it's a fair deal — it's a 50-50 split," Haye said. "That's what they wanted and that's what I wanted."
The announcement came a day after Klitschko pulled out of a planned title defense against British challenger Derek Chisora on April 30 because the Ukrainian said he hadn't recovered from a torn abdominal muscle.
Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, said the fight against Haye could take place at one of the three soccer stadiums in Germany — Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen or Kaiserslautern.
Klitschko has a 55-3 record with 49 knockouts, while Haye is 25-1 with 23 stoppages inside 12 rounds.
Haye would also like to fight the older Klitschko brother, Vitali, before retiring.
Vitali defends his WBC heavyweight title against Odlanier Solis on March 19 in Cologne, Germany.