FRANKFURT, Germany — Vitali Klitschko is leaving boxing to concentrate on Ukrainian politics and his role as an opposition leader.
Klitschko vacated his WBC world heavyweight title on Monday and said he doesn’t expect to fight again as he pursues a presidential bid in his home country, where citizens have been protesting for weeks in Kiev over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shun closer ties with the European Union and push his country toward Russia.
The World Boxing Council proclaimed Klitschko a “Champion Emeritus,” a move that would allow him to challenge the new champion directly should he wish to resume his career.
“This offer makes it theoretically possible to return to the ring, which I cannot imagine at all happening as things stand now,” Klitschko said. “I am now concentrating on the politics in Ukraine.”
Klitschko is a lawmaker and chairman of the opposition party Udar (Punch) and intends to run for president in 2015.
“This is not a revolution. It is a peaceful protest that demands justice,” Klitschko told The Associated Press earlier this month. “They are defending the idea of living in a civilized country.”
The 42-year-old Klitschko has a 45-2 record, with 41 KOs. His younger brother Wladimir holds the other significant heavyweight belts.
“My brother Wladimir will be responsible for further sporting successes,” the older Klitschko said Monday.
Vitali has not fought since September 2012, when he made the 10th defense of his belt with a fourth-round stoppage of Manuel Charr.
The WBC said it will determine two fighters to participate in an eliminator bout that will yield the successor to Klitschko’s vacant title.
The WBC’s next highest-ranked heavyweights are mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne, Chris Arreola and Deontay Wilder.