WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko vacated his belt Monday and was named "champion emeritus," the World Boxing Council announced.
Klitschko, 42, has not defended his title in 15 months but if he does decide to return to the ring, he automatically receives a title shot. He has held the title for almost six years and defended it nine times.
Klitschko is 45-2 with 41 wins by knockout.
"I want to thank the WBC and its president, Don Jose Sulaiman, for the support in our fight for democracy and freedom in Ukraine," Klitschko said, via ESPN's Dan Rafael. "It was and is a great honor to hold the WBC title, and I've always done it with pride. The offer of the WBC gives me the theoretical possibility to return to the boxing ring, which I cannot imagine at all to the current state.Klitschko last fought in September 2012, scoring a fourth-round KO of Manuel Charr.
"Right now, my full concentration is on politics in Ukraine, and I feel that the people need me there. My brother [and unified heavyweight champion] Wladimir will ensure more sporting success and I will, as always, support him as much as he currently supports me in my political fight."