Mon, Dec 15, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Klitschko retains heavyweight title

AP , MANNHEIM, GERMANY

Wladimir Klitschko successfully defended his IBF heavyweight crown by stopping Hasim Rahman in the seventh round at SAP Arena on Saturday.

Klitschko hit the shorter, older and heavier Rahman at will throughout, and after landing a left-right-left combination against the cornered American, referee Tony Weeks stepped in to end the contest 44 seconds into the round. Rahman didn’t appear upset.

Klitschko had knocked down Rahman in the previous round with successive left hooks in the one-sided bout before more than 10,000 spectators.

The technical knockout in Klitchsko’s sixth defense of the IBF belt — and third this year — improved the Ukrainian-born fighter to 52-3 with 46 KOs. He hasn’t lost in more than four years.

Rahman, the two-time heavyweight champion who stepped in as a replacement opponent only last month, struggled to get inside the taller Klitschko’s reach, and dropped to 45-7-2.

From the start, it soon became apparent that Rahman was struggling to overcome the 9cm height advantage enjoyed by the champion. Rahman had to lean in drastically to find openings, and Klitschko easily fended off his few punches.

Rahman did little more than lean on the ropes for a time and guard his face. He looked reinvigorated in the fourth round, using his whole torso to make ambitious attacks, often connecting with Klitschko’s body.

But he rarely landed blows above Klitschko’s shoulders, and the consequences were clear when Klitschko dropped Rahman early in the sixth.

Another flurry at the opening of the seventh ended 36-year-old Rahman’s challenge.

Klitschko, 32, also retained the minor WBO and IBO belts.

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