Odlanier Solis ready to return
Heavyweight contender Odlanier Solis, who blew out his right knee in a first-round knockout loss challenging titleholder Vitali Klitschko on March 19, is ready to return to the ring.
Solis (17-1, 12 KOs) will make his comeback Oct. 14 at a site to be determined in Germany against Varol Vekiloglu, Arena-Box promoter Ahmet Íner announced Tuesday.
Solis, a three-time world amateur champion who also won a 2004 Olympic gold medal for the powerhouse Cuban national team before defecting and turning pro in 2007, battled Klitschko in a competitive first round before his knee gave out. He fell to the canvas just as the opening round was ending and was unable to continue as Klitschko recorded the TKO victory to retain his title in Cologne, Germany.
According to Íner, the 31-year-old Solis underwent three knee surgeries between in March and April but is healed and ready to fight again.
"If his knee hadn't given in he would have won that fight," Íner said. "But anyways, we are happy that everything looks as if he will be fine and able to return in October. After I heard the diagnosis I thought this injury might end his career, but his knee is developing very well and -- most importantly -- Odlanier wants to come back as soon as possible. He is working very hard for his second chance. This fight can hopefully get him back on track and in line for another title shot."
Solid spent his 31st birthday in the hospital recovering from one of the surgeries to repair his ACL as well as meniscus damage. His knee has come a long way since and he said he is excited to return to action.
"I can't wait to get back into the ring," Solis said. "Until I fought Vitali I was merely a mercenary soldier. Now that I know how easy it is to become champion of the world this is what I want and what I'm working and living for."
Vekiloglu (18-2-1, 10 KOs), 28, of Germany, is a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight. He moved up to heavyweight for good in June with a first-round knockout against overmatched Maximillian Rabe, who was making his pro debut.
"Varol wanted the big fights so now he has to prove himself in a very big fight," said Robert Rolle, Vekiloglu's trainer and manager. "Actually it doesn't get much bigger than this. Solis looked very well against Vitali. He is one of the best heavyweight contenders out there. His amateur merits speak for themself. But then again it is always hard to come back after an injury layoff. We are definitely up for the challenge and looking forward to the fight."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.