New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Vitali Klitschko has vacated the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title to concentrate on his political career.
After the 42-year-old Klitschko announced his decision, the WBC appointed him as the boxing body’s champion emeritus, meaning he will automatically get a title shot if he decides to return.
“I want to thank the WBC and its president, Don Jose Sulaiman, for the support in our fight for democracy and freedom in Ukraine,” Klitschko said. “It was and is a great honor to hold the WBC title, and I’ve always done it with pride.”
“The offer of the WBC gives me the theoretical possibility to return to the boxing ring, which I cannot imagine at all to the current state,” added Klitschko, who hasn’t defended his title in 15 months.
This is the second time in his career that Vitali Klitschko has been designated as a “champion emeritus.” When he was hampered by back and knee injuries, Klitschko vacated the title and retired in 2005 and later used his status to his advantage.
A healthy Klitschko returned in 2008 and immediately got a shot at then-titleholder Samuel Peter, whom Klitschko stopped in the eighth round of a one-sided fight to regain the belt.
A three-time heavyweight titleholder, Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) has made nine one-sided title defenses in his 17-year professional career that is expected to bring him to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The winner of a rematch between Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) and Cristobal Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), the top two contenders in the WBC’s ratings, will take over Klitschko’s spot.
Klitschko is the leader of the government opposition UDAR political party in Ukraine, which is pushing for reform and to align the nation economically with the European Union rather than Russia. He is also a member of the Ukrainian parliament and a 2015 presidential candidate.
“Vitali Klitschko is fighting the fight of his life, this time outside the ring,” said WBC executive secretary Mauricio Sulaiman, son of the ill Jose Sulaiman. “Vitali is showing to the world what is the true heart of a champion by leading his countrymen to battle in the streets in their search of human equality, rights and peace for the great country of the Ukraine.”