By Johnny Walker
As someone who wasn’t happy when WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis held up the belt while he dithered as to whether to give Vitali Klitschko a rematch or not, it pains me to see current WBC champion Vitali Klitschko doing the same thing as he tries to decide whether to fight on or go into politics full-time.
As of now, heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne of Canada has won two title eliminators to face the WBC champion. He knocked out Ray Austin in a less than enthralling performance, but seriously upped his level recently when he gave Mexican-American Cristobal Arreola a far worse beating than Klitschko did when he and Arreola met, with Stiverne breaking Arreola’s nose and inflicting severe damage on him generally.
Klitschko has given numerous conflicting statements as to whether he intends, at age 42, to continue with his career. When speaking in English, he usually sounds as if he is carrying on, mentioning a possible future bout with enemy David Haye after he takes on his mandatory (Stiverne), but when speaking to the German or Ukrainian media, he sounds more likely to make an exit into politics the near future.
Either way, it is not fair to Stiverne, who has earned his title shot, for K2 to keep postponing the decision over and over again as to whether he will be allowed to challenge Vitali or not.
Montreal promoter Camille Estephan, CEO of Eye of the Tiger Management, was enraged by the news that Klitschko had once again been granted another extension by the WBC on a purse bid that had been scheduled for July 22 for the title fight, leaving his fighter in the dark once again on his immediate future.
In a press release, Estephan states, “It’s a bit frustrating to hear only two days before the scheduled purse bid that it has once again been postponed. We are waiting for a new date. At this point, we have worked really hard to secure potential venues. Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre and Montreal’s Bell Centre are still at the forefront. Regardless, Bermane is ready now, or in a few months, and the longer Klitschko plays politics rather than man up and fight, the more ready we will be and the older he will get. Bermane will KO him wherever and whenever it happens.”
As someone who regards Vitali Klitschko as his favorite heavyweight of all time, it also pains this writer to see the equivocation and indecision coming from Vitali and his spokesman Bernd Boente regarding his boxing future.
Vitali’s venerable trainer Fritz Sdunek didn’t exactly clear things up lately with his latest statement on the matter: “I can not say definitely that Vitali will return to the ring, or when,” said Sdunek.
“Everything will depend on his political activities. In the next two or three weeks, he will make a final decision,” said Sdunek. “Last week, I spoke to him on the phone and he told me – ‘do not worry, I am already exercising 90 minutes a day.’ I don’t think that we’ve heard the last word from Vitali when it comes to boxing.”
Either way, we need a definitive answer from Vitali Klitschko — soon.