MOSCOW, December 17 (R-Sport) - Vitali Klitschko has vacated his World Boxing Council heavyweight title to focus on his political battles in his native Ukraine, the organization has said.
Klitschko, 42, is one of the opposition leaders at mass demonstrations that have drawn hundreds of thousands of people in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, calling for closer ties with the European Union and for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych. He has also announced his intention to stand for president in elections in 2015.
“With the current extreme and delicate political situation in the Ukraine, Vitali has answered his country's call to fight for human rights and equality,” the WBC said in a statement on its website. “Accordingly, Vitali will not be able to provide the WBC with a predictable timeframe to return to the ring.”
The organization said that it had decided to name Klitschko “WBC Heavyweight Champion Emeritus”, giving him the right to challenge a future champion for the title whenever he chooses.
Klitschko has won 45 of 47 fights and has not lost since 2003. His last contest was a fourth-round stoppage of German contender Manuel Charr in Moscow in September 2012.
It is not clear who will fight for the WBC belt. Canada’s Bermane Stiverne was Klitschko’s mandatory contender, while the Ukrainian’s brother Wladimir holds all of the other major belts in the heavyweight division.