Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Vitali Klitschko turns in solid victory

PROFESSIONAL BOXING The Ukrainian retained his WBC heavyweight title as Britain's Danny Williams hit the canvas four times by the end of the eighth round

AP , LAS VEGAS, NEVADA,MONTREAL AND SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

Ukraine's Vitali Klitschko, left, knocks Danny Williams of Britain off his feet with a left to the face during the first round of their WBC heavyweight championship fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday. Klitschko (35-2, 34 knockouts) knocked Williams down in the first, third, seventh and eighth rounds to win the fight.

PHOTO: AP

Vitali Klitschko staked his claim to being the true heavyweight champion Saturday, knocking Danny Williams down four times and giving him a savage beating before finally stopping him in the eighth round.

He then dedicated the win to democracy in his native Ukraine, where he planned to head Sunday to support the opposition presidential candidate.

"I feel this was the best performance of my career," Klitschko said. "But this victory was not just for me, but also for democracy in the Ukraine."

Williams was taken to a local hospital for a brain scan after the fight, while Klitschko also went to have x-rays taken of his swollen hands to see if they were broken from hitting Williams on the head so many times.

Williams remained game even after the final knockdown in the eighth round, getting up at the count of nine and wanting to continue. But referee Jay Nady decided he had taken enough punishment and waved the fight to a close at 1:26 of the round.

"I feel I am the real heavyweight champion," Klitschko said. "I'm willing to fight anybody."

Klitschko, who owns just one of the three major heavyweight titles, made a case for being the best of the three champions in a dominating effort against a game but completely outclassed challenger.

Klitschko did something Mike Tyson couldn't do against Williams, knocking him down in the first round and giving him such a beating that Williams couldn't come back as he did in his upset win over Tyson.

Williams tried his best, plodding after Klitschko in the third round, but he rarely got inside the 2.01m champion's stiff jab and took a pounding from his right hand.

"My strategy was to use my reach because I knew he would try to get close to me," Klitschko said.

There had been questions about Klitschko's stamina and his tendency to cut around his eyes, but he had no problems with either in a fight he dominated from the opening bell.

With his brother, Wladimir, working the corner, Klitschko swarmed all over Williams in the opening round, landing 52 punches to only four for the challenger. He knocked Williams down with 37 seconds left in the round and hit him almost at will.

Klitschko wore an orange flag on his trunks, signifying his support for Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Others in the crowd waved Ukrainian flags and orange flags, the color of their candidate's campaign.

Klitschko's style was unorthodox, but it was devastatingly effective. And, while Williams lasted through nearly eight full rounds, there was no disputing the damage he inflicted on Williams, a journeyman British heavyweight of little repute until he stopped Tyson in the fourth round of their fight in July.

Williams was cut on his right eyelid in the first round, his face was puffed up, and both his eyes were nearly closed from the sheer volume of punches landed by Klitschko.

"He didn't hit as hard as Mike Tyson but he was more consistent with his punches,'' Williams said.

It was the first defense by Klitschko of the title he won against Corrie Sanders in April, and he continued a recent streak of impressive performances that began when he fought well against Lennox Lewis before losing on cuts after six rounds.

The fight pitted two big men, with Klitschko weighing 113kg and Williams weighing 122kg, despite giving away six inches in height to the champion. Williams had wanted to get inside on Klitschko, but Klitschko would not allow him anywhere close.

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