GELSENKIRCHEN // On a day when Ruslan Chagaev threw everything he had at Wladimir Klitschko, the latter was, in his own assessment, "better". And as a result of Klitschko's height advantage and general form, he handed Chagaev his first loss with a technical knockout to retain his IBF and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday.
The hastily put together fight was held in front of 61,000 fans at Veltins Arena, the biggest boxing audience in Germany in 70 years. Klitschko relied on a powerful left-right combination to send Chagaev to the mat in the second round, and exploited a cut that opened over the Uzbekistan-born fighter's left eye in the eighth. Referee Eddie Cotton called the fight for Klitschko at the opening of the 10th round. The Ukrainian's five-inch height advantage and superior power helped him wear Chagaev down, though Chagaev manoeuvred inside Klitschko's reach for several early blows that appeared to stun Klitschko, and one that raised a bruise under his right eye.
"You can't underestimate Chagaev," Klitschko said in the ring after the fight. "He did everything today, but I was better." Chagaev's left-eye cut was similar to the one that ended his fight in February against Carl Davis Drumond in Rostock, Germany. "Throughout the fight, I searched for the keys to unlock a win, but I just couldn't find them," the 30-year-old said. The sell-out crowd was the biggest boxing audience in Germany since Max Schmeling knocked out Adolf Heuser in front of 70,000 people in Stuttgart in 1939.
The match-up at the Schalke football club's home arena was billed as a showdown to end a running verbal feud between Klitschko, 33, and David Haye. But Haye bowed out this month, saying he injured his back. Haye asked to reschedule the fight in July, but Klitschko wanted to keep the date and the sell-out crowd. He found a replacement in Chagaev. * AP