Boxing takes another blow

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> There was supposed to be a heavyweight title fight on Saturday of some interest.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Las Vegas:

There was supposed to be a heavyweight title fight on Saturday of some interest. Supposed to be, that is, before Vitali Klitschko hurt his knee and abruptly retired before the anesthesia had even worn off from his surgery. If you don't follow boxing closely - and it's hard to do when four different fighters claim to be heavyweight champion - Klitschko was a pretty good story. The Ukrainian spoke four languages, had an advanced university degree, and hit like a mule. He was someone, in other words, who had a chance to bring fans back to boxing. Rigors of sport That all vanished when Klitschko limped away from his WBC title defense against Hasim Rahman, deciding his 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) body could not stand the rigors of boxing anymore. Klitschko lost an $8 million payday, but his retirement cost boxing even more. A sport that a generation ago ranked as one of the world's favorites was marginalized even more by its failure to give the public a legitimate heavyweight champion. "Everybody was looking at Klitschko as the real deal, the top heavyweight in the world,'' promoter Bob Arum said. "That's not going to happen now.'' To understand how far boxing has slipped, the cancellation of the Klitschko-Rahman fight just seven days before it was to take place caused barely a ripple in the sports world. Indeed, there was more talk during the week about Muhammad Ali's health than the current state of the heavyweight division. (AP)

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