Klitschko defends heavyweight title

LAS VEGAS Vitali Klitschko staked his claim to being the true heavyweight champion Saturday, knocking Danny Williams down four times and giving him a savage beating before finally stopping him in the eighth round.

He then dedicated the win to democracy in his native Ukraine, where he planned to head Sunday to support the opposition presidential candidate.

‘I feel this was the best performance of my career,’ Klitschko said. ‘But this victory was not just for me, but also for democracy in the Ukraine.’

Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title in a lopsided fight that left Williams bloodied, battered and barely able to see. Williams was taken to a local hospital for a brain scan after the fight, while Klitschko also went to have x-rays taken of his swollen hands to see if they were broken from hitting Williams on the head so many times.

Williams remained game even after the final knockdown in the eighth round, getting up at the count of nine and wanting to continue. But referee Jay Nady decided he had taken enough punishment and waved the fight to a close at 1:26 of the round.

‘I feel I am the real heavyweight champion,’ Klitschko said. ‘I’m willing to fight anybody.’

Klitschko, who owns just one of the three major heavyweight titles, made a case for being the best of the three champions in a dominating effort against a game but completely outclassed challenger. Klitschko did something Mike Tyson couldn’t do against Williams, knocking him down in the first round and giving him such a beating that Williams couldn’t come back as he did in his upset win over Tyson. Williams tried his best, plodding after Klitschko in the third round, but he rarely got inside the 2.01-meter (6-foot-7) champion’s stiff jab and took a pounding from his right hand.