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Champion Emeritus: Why Vitali Klitschko is guaranteed an immediate title shot

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Former WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) , now the mayor of Kiev, has hinted he's contemplating a return to the ring to avenge his brother's loss to Anthony Joshua last April.

The elder Klitschko, 46, insists his seemingly poor advice cost Wladimir the fight.

"It was great fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Joshua...great fight," Vitali Klitschko told Fight Hub TV. "It was a great performance, and he (Wlad K) was ready for knock-out of Joshua, but it was my (fault)...I feel a bit guilty."

"Because I talked to Wladimir in the corner and I told him, 'don't be so active in round number 6'...then Wladimir sent Joshua to the floor. I expected with such big muscles that athlete never recover...I was surprised that Joshua recovered so fast, and stopped Wladimir."

"If I don't stop my brother, in my opinion, Wladimir knocks him out in six or maybe round number seven."

Whether Vitali could get an immediate shot at Joshua is debatable. However, he could thrust himself into the heavyweight spotlight again quite easily.

Although his return is unlikely, let's not forget Vitali was granted "champion emeritus" status by the WBC upon retiring in 2013. Hence, should he fight again, he could automatically get an immediate title shot against the organization's heavyweight champion who, at this moment, is Deontay Wilder.

How does one attain champion emeritus status?

In its discretion, the WBC may designate and recognize, upon a two-thirds majority vote of their Board of Governors, one or more emeritus world champions in each weight class.

Although Vitali, who received his status via a unanimous verdict, probably wouldn't need to invoke his emeritus status to face IBF champion Anthony Joshua, he could theoretically make himself the guaranteed mandatory opponent for the winner of Wilder vs Bermane Stiverne.

So what does this mean?

Should Vitali comeback and defeat the reigning WBC champion, a unification showdown with Joshua would generate tremendous interest and give the elder Klitschko more leverage than he'd have facing Joshua straight away.

Klitschko, a sure candidate for the International Boxing Hall of Fame, made nine one-sided title defenses and owns the highest knockouts-to-fights ratio in heavyweight championship history, sans Anthony Joshua, of course, who is 19-0, 19 KO.

Will he exercise his guarantee?

... Probably not. But if he truly is considering a return to boxing, invoking his emeritus status might be on the table.

The following boxers have earned the Emeritus Championship appellation throughout their careers: Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko, Roy Jones Jr, Bernard Hopkins (Honorary Champion), Mikkel Kessler, Sergio Gabriel Martínez, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Kostya Tszyu, Manny Pacquiao, Danny García, Érik Morales, Toshiaki Nishioka, Vic Darchinyan, Édgar Sosa and Tony Bellew.


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