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He Ain't Heavy
Chris Mannix
October 20, 2008
He's my brother, the heavyweight champion
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October 20, 2008

He Ain't Heavy

He's my brother, the heavyweight champion

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THERE ARE two ways to look at Vitali Klitschko's stunning eighth round TKO of Samuel Peter in Berlin last Saturday. One, the heavyweight division is so competitive that even a potent puncher like Peter can be upset. Or two, the division is so pathetic that a 37-year-old who hasn't fought in nearly four years can make a belt holder quit on his stool. Klitschko, with some justification, believes the former. "I never lost my skills," says Klitschko. "I proved that."

With the victory Klitschko not only regained the WBC title he gave up after injuries forced him to retire in 2004, but he also made history, joining younger brother Wladimir, the IBF, IBO and WBO champ, as the first siblings to hold world titles simultaneously. "This was our dream," says Vitali.

Their next dream: "We want to bring all the heavyweight titles into the Klitschko family," says Vitali. That means one of the brothers will have to beat Nicolay Valuev, the seven-foot Russian who owns the final piece of the heavyweight puzzle, the WBA belt. While both Klitschkos would be favored against Valuev—Wladimir, 32, is regarded as the best heavyweight, and after using Peter's skull for target practice, Vitali now ranks a close second—the question becomes, Which one should be first in line? Wladimir, who backed off his own pursuit of Peter's WBC title to give his brother a shot, is boxing's best hope for a unified champion. Vitali, however, doesn't sound like a man willing to cede the spotlight. "It's difficult to say," he says. "If my brother gets the shot, I will support him. I think he is a great champion, like Muhammad Ali. But if I get it, I would take it."

What the world won't see is a Klitschko-Klitschko showdown. "Not going to happen," says their manager, Bernd Boente. "You can want to beat your brother in chess or in tennis, but you can't get in the ring with him and want to knock him out." That means a fight with Valuev may be the last high-profile heavyweight bout for a while. It will be up to the Klitschkos to determine which one of them will be a part of it.

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