WBC President Jose Sulaiman told RingTV.com on Friday that “Dr. Iron Fist” Vitali Klitschko will have until March 2014 to defend the WBC heavyweight championship against mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne.
The 42-year-old Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) announced earlier this week that he will be unable to compete in 2013 due to a right hand injury.
Klitschko last exited the squared circle in September 2012 with a fourth round TKO victory over “Diamond Boy” Manuel Charr.
"There were rumors that he was retiring, but he has said, 'No' to that," Sulaiman said of Klitschko, whose 13-fight winning streak includes 10 knockouts.
“He has been busy and involved in politics, and then, he had a problem with his right hand. He has seen a doctor, and the doctor said that he will not be ready to fight until sometime in the month of March. Vitali Klitschko deserves the support of the WBC, because he has been a very loyal and a good example in his private life. We respect his position and we support him. Vitali Klitschko will keep his title and Stiverne will be his first defense. If Stiverne wants to wait, that will be okay, but that's a long time for him to remain without fighting."
Leading the UDAR (Punch) party to a surprising third place finish in the Ukrainian parliamentary election in October, Klitschko hasn’t decided whether to again scrap or focus on politics.
A former mayoral candidate who is 15-2 in world title contests, “Dr. Iron Fist” hasn’t been overcome since Lennox Lewis escaped with an extremely controversial sixth round TKO win in June 2003.
After emerging victorious in two elimination bouts, Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) rightfully voiced his frustrations with “Dr. Ironfist” and the WBC.
"I really don't think that he's hurt. I think that he just wants to buy himself some more time," said Stiverne, 34, who battered Chris Arreola to earn a unanimous decision triumph on April 27. "I just don't believe that he's injured. I think that it's just a matter of politics and money."
Never floored as a professional and owning the second-highest heavyweight knockout percentage (87.76%), the 6-foot-8, 245 pound Klitschko will ultimately be remembered as one of the premier pugilists in history.
However, considering Klitschko’s expected to run for president in 2015, Bermane Stiverne may be correct that “it's just a matter of politics and money."
Although “a very loyal and a good example” of how to work as a prizefighter, Vitali Klitschko owes it to boxing to promptly reenter the ring or retire from the sport.