THERE ARE two waysto look at Vitali Klitschko's stunning eighth round TKO of Samuel Peter inBerlin last Saturday. One, the heavyweight division is so competitive that evena potent puncher like Peter can be upset. Or two, the division is so patheticthat a 37-year-old who hasn't fought in nearly four years can make a beltholder quit on his stool. Klitschko, with some justification, believes theformer. "I never lost my skills," says Klitschko. "I provedthat."
With the victoryKlitschko not only regained the WBC title he gave up after injuries forced himto 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 titlessimultaneously. "This was our dream," says Vitali.
Their next dream:"We want to bring all the heavyweight titles into the Klitschkofamily," says Vitali. That means one of the brothers will have to beatNicolay Valuev, the seven-foot Russian who owns the final piece of theheavyweight puzzle, the WBA belt. While both Klitschkos would be favoredagainst Valuev—Wladimir, 32, is regarded as the best heavyweight, and afterusing Peter's skull for target practice, Vitali now ranks a close second—thequestion becomes, Which one should be first in line? Wladimir, who backed offhis own pursuit of Peter's WBC title to give his brother a shot, is boxing'sbest hope for a unified champion. Vitali, however, doesn't sound like a manwilling 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 greatchampion, like Muhammad Ali. But if I get it, I would take it."
What the worldwon't see is a Klitschko-Klitschko showdown. "Not going to happen,"says their manager, Bernd Boente. "You can want to beat your brother inchess or in tennis, but you can't get in the ring with him and want to knockhim out." That means a fight with Valuev may be the last high-profileheavyweight bout for a while. It will be up to the Klitschkos to determinewhich one of them will be a part of it.
October 19, 2008
The Pop CultureGrid