GELSENKIRCHEN // The world heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko will fight Ruslan Chagaev as planned on Saturday night as the challenger's hepatitis B virus poses no health threat, health officials said today. The American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP) had urged organisers on Thursday to postpone the fight in front of an expected 60,000 crowd at Bundesliga club Schalke's stadium.
The AAPRP said Uzbek Chagaev's hepatitis B virus could be a health threat to people in and around the ring given the fighter could be injured and his blood could infect trainers or spectators in or near the ring. "The risk of infecting officials and visitors is beyond minimal," Gelsenkirchen health department chief Henriette Reker said. Reker said all possible risks had been considered and said there was no need to re-evaluate the situation.
Chagaev's promoters said the boxer was not infectious. "After achieving hepatitis B many years ago Ruslan Chagaev has never been sick due to hepatitis B. He is just a healthy carrier of hepatitis antigen with constantly normal liver enzymes," Universum Box-Promotion doctor Michael Ehnert said on the promoters' website. "Infection doesn't mean illness. According to international expert opinions Ruslan Chagaev is regarded as non-infectious."
Ukraine's 33-year-old champion Klitschko, the IBF, IBO and WBO champion, was inoculated earlier this week against hepatitis B and said he was comfortable fighting Chagaev. Klitschko, whose brother Vitaly holds the WBC crown, was initially scheduled to fight David Haye before the Briton pulled out with an injury earlier this month. Undefeated Chagaev, 30, is the WBA champion-in-recess and so cannot defend that title against Klitschko.