NEW YORK — Oleg Maskaev’s unlikely reign as heavyweight champion ended not with a knockout but with a decision: a vote by the World Boxing Council’s board of governors to name Samuel Peter its interim titleholder.
His manager thinks the WBC didn’t give Maskaev a fair shot. Fred Kesch denounced the WBC decision as “absurd,” “reprehensible” and “disgraceful.”
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Kesch said before the injured fighter visited a doctor Wednesday to treat his bad back. “There’s no logic, no intelligent path. This is like fiction, and it’s being rewritten with every stroke.”
Last week, Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs) pulled out of his scheduled Oct. 6 Madison Square Garden fight against Peter. The champion, who captured the belt in 2006 with a knockout of Hasim Rahman, was idled by herniated discs.
On Monday, the WBC board voted to name Peter its interim champion with the intention of finding a replacement for Maskaev. An angry Kesch charged the decision was a slap at his fighter, along with a way to perhaps cut Maskaev’s purse when he does get back in the ring.
“I have nothing against Samuel Peter, but they don’t even give Oleg a chance to recuperate,” Kesch said. “Where does it say if Oleg is injured, it’s automatic that the opponent becomes interim champ?
“When Mike Tyson was injured, when Evander Holyfield was injured, who became interim champ then?”
WBC President Jose Sulaiman said he understood Kesch’s frustration but insisted his organization handled the case correctly.
“He has the right to defend his fighter,” Sulaiman said. “But the WBC has the right to do whatever is better for boxing. The case here is that Oleg, who is a very nice person, has not defended the title for 10 months. We want activity in the most important division of boxing.”
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Hanka Kupfernagel of Germany beat American Kristin Armstrong, the defending champion, by 23 seconds in winning the time trial at the road cycling world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., will install lights in time for the 2008 racing season and become the 10th current NASCAR Nextel Cup oval to hold night racing, beginning with the race on July 12.