Vitali Klitschko reclaims WBC title

  • Associated Press
  • Saturday, October 11, 2008 5:12pm
  • SportsSports

BERLIN — Vitali Klitschko reclaimed the WBC belt and fulfilled a self-proclaimed dream to hold a heavyweight title at the same time as his brother, stopping Samuel Peter with a technical knockout Saturday night.

Peter chose not to come back out after eight rounds that saw him weaving and occasionally wobbling as Klitschko landed a persistent stream of heavy left jabs to Peter’s head in front of more than 12,000 people at the new O2 World Arena.

The 37-year-old Ukranian fighter (36-2, 35 KOs) used his height — he’s 6-foot-7 — and reach to keep Peter crouched and defensive.

Wladimir Klitschko, widely considered the most talented among the chaotic field of so-called heavyweight champions, holds the IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight belts — and dealt Peter his only previous loss, in September 2005 in a 12-round unanimous decision.

Peter, a 28-year-old Nigerian-born fighter, kept a tight defensive stance and managed to plant a series of solid body shots on his towering opponent. But after eight rounds he hadn’t worked consistently inside Klitschko’s massive reach.

Klitschko told reporters after the fight that he wouldn’t have needed much longer to deliver on a promise to end the fight by knockout.

“If Samuel Peter didn’t stop the fight, I have the feeling in the next two rounds, I would have knocked him out,” Klitschko said. “He got more and more punches, and his chin (was) not so strong as the first rounds.”

Klitschko has been WBC “champion emeritus” since a knee injury forced him to withdraw from a fight and retire from boxing in 2005.

The honorary status gave him the right to fight Peter (30-2), who won the interim belt in a fight against Jameel McCline last September, whenever Klitschko chose to come out of retirement.

“I knew if I lost the fight I wouldn’t get a second chance,” Klitschko told reporters after the fight. “It was a one-way ticket, and I used my chance.”

Klitschko is a three-time champion who won the WBC title in 2004 with an eight-round victory over Corrie Sanders. The Peter fight was Klitschko’s first since he defended the crown with an eighth-round win over Danny Williams in Las Vegas in 2004.

Klitschko’s performances as a powerful puncher have often been overshadowed by injury. In 2005, he withdrew from a WBC title fight with Hasim Rahman because of a torn ligament in his right knee. The injury led him to announce his retirement, and the WBC made him “champion emeritus.” Last fall, he announced a comeback fight against Jameel McCline, only to back out after hurting his back and undergoing emergency surgery.

Promoter Don King said after the fight that a logical next step for Klitschko might be to seek a rematch with the retired Lennox Lewis, whom Klitschko lost to in 2003 when a fight doctor called the bout because Klitschko had a badly cut eye.

“What a triumph that would be for us old guys,” King said.

Klitschko was more reticent.

“I need to think about it,” he said of plans for his newly revived fighting career. “I need to take care of my hand, because it is swollen.”

Klitschko seemed more willing to joke about a hypothetical matchup with his brother — which both have said is out of the question.

“You know what? I like this belt very much,” he quipped as he picked up one of the three title belts Wladimir had brought with him to the press conference, where he sat beside Vitali.

“Watch yourself now, brother,” Wladimir shot back.

Peter declined to attend the post-fight press conference, but his manager Ivaylo Gotzev said the loss put Peter on “the comeback trail.”

“We’ve been here before, and we’re going to go back and look at the tape and see what we need to work on,” Gotzev said.

In an undercard fight, heavyweight Odlanier Solis improved to 12-0 and grabbed the WBC international heavyweight belt by beating American Chauncy Welliver (34-5-5, 13 KOs) in the ninth round. Belarussian Alexander Ustinov (13-0, 11 KOs) dealt a heavy-handed knockout to Detroit’s Julius Long (15-10, 13 KOs) in the first round of another heavyweight matchup.

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