Klitschko dedicates KO to Ukraine

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AP

IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO champion Wladimir Klitschko from Ukraine, right, punches his Australian challenger Alex Leapai during their heavyweight world title bout in Oberhausen, western Germany. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Berlin - Undisputed world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has dedicated his fifth-round knock-out of challenger Alex Leapai to his countrymen embroiled in the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine.

Klitschko, 38, defended his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts in Oberhausen late Saturday and was in complete control of his 25th world title fight, putting Australia's Leapai on the canvas three times.

“It wasn't easy, because my head was with my countrymen in Ukraine. What is going on in my home country is the concern of the whole world,” said Klitschko, who landed 147 punches compared to Leapai's mere ten.

“I hope that the politicians in my home country will find a peaceful solution, I am proud of my people.

“This fight was important for my countrymen, so that it can distract them from the problems which we are still facing.

“I hope we can get through this crisis just like I got through this fight.

“Our dreams of living in a democratic country, where any European will feel welcome, will come true and most of all there will be peace.”

Klitschko picked up the 53rd knock-out of his career in his 62nd victory in the 65th fight of his career and the referee finally stepped in after two minutes, five seconds of the fifth round.

But the champion paid tribute to his out-classed challenger.

“You never stopped, you were courageous and you were bold,” Klitschko told Leapai.

“You had the desire to become a champion and not many of my opponents had that type of attitude.

“I think your fans back home can be very proud of you.

“Alex was looking for the right moment and the right shot and I swear if one of those shots had landed anywhere near my head I would not be sitting here tonight.

“This is 112kgs of pure muscle and power and I am sure Alex will be able to beat a lot of boxers in the division.”

Both fighters tipped the scales at 112kgs, but Klitschko had just over double the victories, compared to Leapai's 24 knock-outs in 30 wins, and with a 15cm height advantage, he made both his superior size and experience count.

“I feel disappointed to be honest,” said Samoan-born Leapai.

“Wladimir did his homework and made it really hard for me to land that right hand, he just kept moving.

“It's a learning experience and I just want to get back in the gym and keep going. This is not the end of the line.

“There were a few things I could have done differently, but tonight is all about Wladimir.

“I couldn't get through his jab.

“He kept moving and that's why he's been undefeated for the last 10 years.

“I was trying to egg him on, to come inside (my reach), but he was fighting smart, then one of his rights came in and landed on the side of my head. That was that.

“Manuel Charr and Shannon Briggs, these are the guys I'll be chasing now, I'm a puncher and I can take any of those guys.”

It is now a decade since Klitschko last tasted defeat, when he lost to Lamon Brewster in Las Vegas in April 2004, and the champion says he has no desire to give up his titles.

“This sport delights me and I love being at the top of it,” he said.

“I know there are others who want to take my place and knock me off my throne, but that keeps me hungry.

“It's a decade since I lost to Brewster and I am grateful for that experience.

“It was a terrible loss which left a bad after taste and a memory which puts me on alert for every new challenger I face.

“This is all still part of the pay back for that and I am not done yet.”

US legend Joe Louis' 12-year record for the longest reigning world heavyweight champion will fall if Klitschko is unbeaten for the next four years having won his first title in 2006.

Sapa-AFP


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