Vitali Klitschko pledges to regain heavyweight title

Not everyone is happy about Vitali Klitschko's boxing comeback.

The former WBC heavyweight champion, who retired two years ago after a series of injuries, said Thursday that his knee was mostly healed and that he was ready to win back his title.

"I asked the advice of many people before taking this step," said Klitschko, who spoke outside the Kiev City Council, where he serves as a lawmaker. "Only two people did not support me. They are my mother and my wife."

Klitschko's last fight was an eighth-round win over Danny Williams on Dec. 11, 2004. The 36-year-old Ukrainian's back and knee problems forced a year layoff afterward, then his retirement with a 35-2 record with 34 knockouts.

"I had a dream to become a world champion together with my brother," said Klitschko, referring to his younger brother Wladimir, the current IBF champion. "Now I am one step away from fulfilling this dream."

Wladimir Klitschko will defend his IBF heavyweight title against American boxer Ray Austin on March 10 in Mannheim, Germany.

Vitali Klitschko's aides had said that he plans to fight WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev on April 21 in Moscow. But Klitschko said he is waiting for authorization from the WBC, saying only that it would happen sometime this spring.

Last month, Maskaev retained his title with an unanimous decision win over Peter Okhello in the first world title fight held in Russia. Klitschko attended the fight.

"I consider my chances to again win the title of heavyweight world champion as rather good," Klitschko said.

Klitschko failed in a recent bid to be elected mayor of Kiev, but has maintained a high public profile in the Ukrainian capital, reports AP.

"He's Back," declared the Gazeta Po-Kievsky newspaper on Thursday.

Klitschko said his return to the ring doesn't mean he's setting aside politics.

"I am ready to invest my strength, energy and knowledge to change Ukraine, to change it for better," he said.

Dozens of fans gathered outside the Kiev City Council to hear Klitschko announce his return.

"I want him to do one thing, not to switch all the time. He should pick: sport or politics," 28-year-old laborer Valery Horbachov said.

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