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Monday, November 7, 2005
Klitschko to lose title if he can't defend in three months

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- Vitali Klitschko will be stripped of the WBC heavyweight title if a knee injury takes more than three months to heal.

The title will be awarded to former champion Hasim Rahman, WBC president Jose Sulaiman said Monday. He said Klitschko was given at least another week for doctors to determine the severity of the injury that led him to again cancel a bout against Rahman.

But if the champion can recuperate in the next three months, he will be allowed to defend.

The WBC will make no determination in the case at least until Saturday, because Klitschko called Sulaiman and asked for a few days more so medical experts can better diagnose his injury.

"You shouldn't lose your title because you get injured," Sulaiman told The Associated Press in an interview. "A decision that is fair for everyone will come in time."

Addressing a group of reporters and former boxing champions a short time later, Sulaiman said, "We can't act under pressure from anybody when we think that pressure will force an injustice."

"You all know there are many economic interests all over the world that were pressuring the World Council to stop recognizing Klitschko as champion," Sulaiman said. "But it seems to me unfair not to give the courtesy of an opportunity to a fighter ... to undergo medical examinations to determine if the injury is major or minor."

Klitschko hurt his knee while sparring last week in Los Angeles. He was fitted with a brace, but later canceled the fight with Rahman scheduled for Nov. 12 in Las Vegas.

The weekend announcement marked the second time a Klitschko-Rahman fight has been called off. They were originally scheduled to fight April 30.

But Sulaiman said Monday that the cancellation actually was the fourth time Klitschko has backed out of a fight with Rahman. Sulaiman hinted that the champion might be looking for excuses to stay out of the ring with the challenger.

"I think that perhaps this has more to do with physiological aspects, I don't know," he said. "That's why we are going to wait for the results of a medical examination by a specialist."

Klitschko has not fought since stopping Danny Williams in the first defense of his title last December. A pulled thigh muscle forced him to cancel the April fight with Rahman.

Rahman grew so tired of waiting to fight Klitschko that he took a bout with Monte Barrett in August. Rahman won on a decision to become the WBC's interim champion, meaning he would be declared champion if Klitschko didn't fight him.