Vitali Klitschko reclaimed the WBC heavyweight title Saturday night, stopping Samuel Peter at the end of the eighth round.
The Ukrainian, 37, beat Peter with a flurry of solid jabs to the head that kept him ducking and weaving — and occasionally wobbling.
"If Samuel Peter didn't stop the fight, I have the feeling in the next two rounds, I would have knocked him out," Klitschko said. "He got more and more punches, and his chin (was) not so strong as the first rounds."
Klitschko (36-2, 34 KOs) has been WBC "champion emeritus" since a knee injury forced him to bow out of a fight and retire from boxing in 2005. The two fought Saturday at Berlin's O2 World arena in front of more than 12,000 fans.
The Nigerian-born Peter dropped to 30-2.
Wladimir Klitschko, widely considered the most talented among the chaotic field of so-called heavyweight champions, holds the IBF and WBO heavyweight belts — and dealt Peter his only previous loss, in September 2005 in a 12-round unanimous decision.
"I knew if I lost the fight I wouldn't get a second chance," Klitschko told reporters after the fight. "It was a one-way ticket, and I used my chance."
Peter, a 28-year-old Nigerian-born fighter, kept a tight defensive stance and managed to plant a series of solid body shots on his towering opponent. But after eight rounds he hadn't worked consistently inside Klitschko's massive reach.
Klitschko has been WBC "champion emeritus" since a knee injury forced to withdraw from a fight and retire from boxing in 2005.
The honourary status gave him the right to fight Peter (30-2), who won the interim belt in a fight against Jameel McCline last September, whenever Klitschko chose to come out of retirement.
Klitschko is a three-time champion who won the WBC title in 2004 with an eight-round victory over Corrie Sanders. The Peter fight was Klitschko's first since he defended the crown with an eighth-round win over Danny Williams in Las Vegas in 2004.
Injury-prone power puncher
Klitschko's performances as a powerful puncher have often been overshadowed by injury. In 2005, he withdrew from a WBC title fight with Hasim Rahman because of a torn ligament in his right knee. The injury led him to announce his retirement, and the WBC made him "champion emeritus." Last fall, he announced a comeback fight against Jameel McCline, only to back out after hurting his back and undergo emergency surgery.
Promoter Don King said after the fight that a logical next step for Klitschko might be to seek a rematch with Lennox Lewis, whom Klitschko lost to in 2003 when a fight doctor called the bout because Klitschko had a badly cut eye.
"What a triumph that would be for us old guys," King said.
Lewis has been retired since 2004.
In an undercard fight, heavyweight Odlanier Solis improved to 12-0 and grabbed the WBC international heavyweight belt by beating American Chauncy Welliver (34-5-5, 13 KOs) in the ninth round.
Belarussian Alexander Ustinov (13-0, 11 KOs) dealt a heavy-handed knockout to Detroit's Julius Long (15-10, 13 KOs) in the first round of another heavyweight matchup.
Dawson beats Antonio Tarver to take IBF, IBO titles
Chad Dawson finally has a victory over a notable opponent.
Dawson entered his IBF-IBO light heavyweight title fight Saturday night in Las Vegas with questions that his unblemished record was the result of victories against inferior competition.
Thoroughly dominating three-time champion Antonio Tarver, Dawson silenced critics with an unanimous decision to capture both titles.
Dawson had the lone knockout when his powerful left jab sent Tarver to the canvas with 2:11 left in the final round.
Dawson won by the scores of 117-110 from two judges and 118-109 from the other.