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Vitali Klitschko retires, named "Champion Emiritus"

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According to an article Monday on ProBoxingInsider.com, WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko has decided to vacate his title and has been named "Champion Emeritus" by the organization.

"I want to thank the WBC and its president Don Jose Sulaiman for the support in our fight for democracy and freedom in the Ukraine. It was and is a great honor to hold the WBC title and I've always done it with pride," said Klitschko, whose 37-year-old brother, Wladimir Klitschko, is THE RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion.

"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. Right now, my full concentration is on politics in Ukraine, and I feel that the people need me there. My brother Wladimir will ensure more sporting success and I will -- as always -- support him as much as he currently supports me in my political fight."

The WBC will look to fill the void left by Klitschko's departure in a title eliminator fight between two of the highest ranking fighters they have. Currently, Bermane Stiverne is the mandatory challenger for the title, while Chris Arreola and Deontay Wilder fall next in the rankings. Bryant jennings, Mike Perez and Dereck Chisora could also find themselves in the mix. There has been no official announcement made regarding who will get the first opportunity to win the belt.

"The WBC is proud and honored to confirm the status of Vitali Klitschko as WBC Heavyweight World Champion Emeritus. Undoubtedly, Vitali has earned that distinction through his actions inside and outside the ring," read a statement from Mauricio Sulaiman, in part.

"Vitali Klitschko is fighting the fight of his life; this time outside the ring. Vitali is showing to the world what is the true heart of a champion by leading his countrymen to battle in the streets in their search of human equality, rights and peace for the great country of the Ukraine."

The last time the older Klitschko competed was last September when he stopped previously unbeaten Manuel Charr in the fourth round. He was given until Dec. 15 to make up his mind as to what he wanted to do with his career.

"Vitali Klitschko announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the Ukraine, which election will take place in 2015. Vitali believed he would be able to defend his WBC Heavyweight World Championship, and wanted to do so against the WBC mandatory contender Bermane Stiverne," read the statement.

"Vitali attended the WBC 51st annual convention in Bangkok last November. At the convention, the representatives of the 165 countries affiliated to the WBC issued a special proclamation applauding and joining his efforts to represent boxing and the WBC in his candidacy for the presidency of the Ukraine."

"With the current extreme and delicate political situation in the Ukraine, Vitali has answered his country's call to fight for human rights and equality. Accordingly, Vitali will not be able to provide the WBC with a predictable time-frame to return to the ring," the statement continued.

"In light of those considerations, the WBC Supreme Council and the WBC Board of Governors have voted unanimously to name Vitali Klitschko WBC Heavyweight Champion Emeritus. Very few great fighters have received such an honorable distinction, which will entitle Vitali to fight for the WBC Heavyweight World Championship when he is ready to return to the ring."

What this ultimately means is that Vitali Klitschko will retire as champion, and should he decide to return to the ring at any time, he will be eligible to fight for the title against whoever is champion at that time. This isn't the first time Klitschko has been named "Champion Emeritus." Back in 2005, he also received the honor, coming back in 2008 to take the title from Samuel Peter with an 8th round knockout.

The WBC stated that they are looking to clarify the title situation as quickly as possible in order to find a new title holder for the heavyweight division.

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