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Klitschko retains heavyweight title

Vitali Klitschko

Vitali Klitschko

Ukraine’s Vitali Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title in Hamburg late on Saturday, beating American challenger Shannon Briggs on points (120-107, 120-107, 120-105).

The 39-year-old Klitschko was putting his belt on the line for the fifth time since claiming the title in October 2008 against Nigeria’s Samuel Peter after a four-year spell in retirement.

Klitschko dominated Briggs to extend his record to 41 wins, 38 by KO, with two defeats.

Briggs, 38, for his part now stands at six defeats from 58 fights.

With Klitschko’s brother Vladimir holding the IBF and WBO titles, the only belt the brothers are missing is the WBA belt held by David Haye, the Briton one of the Klitshko’s hopes to meet in 2011.

The muscular and dreadlocked Briggs was never able to live up to his pre-bout bragging when he had claimed he had never prepared so well for a fight.

Klitschko set out to tire Briggs with a mix of right hooks to his face and blows to his body.

From the fourth round the older of the two Klitschko’s took command with his more accurate and mobile gameplan, the Ukrainian unfazed by some verbal blows launched by his opponent.

In the seventh and 10th rounds, Klitschko, appearing in Hamburg where he had won his first professional fight for the first time since 1999, looked to have got a KO only for Briggs to pick himself up.

In the last two rounds, Klitshko was unable to serve up the coup de grace despite Briggs appearing at the end of his tether.

“I gave everything, my hand is sore, but his ability to take punches was impressive,” said Klitshko.

Briggs said: “I’ve boxed against Lewis and Foreman, I put up my best fight of my career tonight, but Vitali is too quick, he hits hard, harder than all the others, he’s a great boxer.”

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