It appears that Vitali Klitschko's exceptional boxing career has come to an end. The WBC heavyweight champion vacated his title on Monday, Dec. 16, to shift his focus from the ring to the political arena.
Steve Wilson of the AP reported the news and noted that Klitschko didn't think he would ever box again:
BoxingNews24.com's Scott Gilfoid reports that the WBC has given Klitschko a new honorary title, that of WBC Emeritus champion. That allows two of the top three contenders for the now-vacated heavyweight belt to compete in a bout, so that a successor to Klitschko can be determined.
The WBC's official website later confirmed the news.
Those three boxers vying for a shot at the title are Bermane Stiverne, Chris Arreola and Deontay Wilder respectively, per Gilfoid.
However, it also stipulates that Klitschko can return to the ring at any time and set up a bout to get his heavyweight title belt back, if he so desires. The man known as "Dr. Ironfist" has compiled a 45-2 record with a whopping 41 knockouts.
As documented by FightNews.com, Klitschko was grateful for the gesture by the WBC and appreciative that it supported his political activity:
I want to thank the WBC and its president Don Jose Sulaiman for the support in our fight for democracy and freedom in the Ukraine. 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. Right now, my full concentration is on politics in Ukraine, and I feel that the people need me there. My brother Wladimir will ensure more sporting success and I will – as always – support him as much as he currently supports me in my political fight.
The 42-year-old Klitschko is seeking political office in Ukraine, announcing in October he would run as a candidate in the country's 2015 presidential election.
Klitschko has bolstered his profile to this point by leading the nation's relatively new political party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR). The party was founded on April 24, 2010, per Klichko.org.
There is upheaval going on in Ukraine right now, as thousands have taken to the street to protest in the nation's capital for the current regime's lack of follow-through on integrating with Europe, per CNN.com's Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Nick Paton Walsh.
In this time of forthcoming change and civil unrest, it is clear that Klitschko wants to be in his home country to help the cause.