COLOGNE, Germany, (Reuters) – Vitaly Klitschko easily retained his WBC heavyweight title on Saturday with a first-round knockout of Cuban challenger Odlanier Solis.
Some 19,000 fans were stunned to see the 39-year-old Ukrainian land a big right hand followed by a left to the top of the head, sending the 2004 Olympic champion, undefeated in all 17 of his professional fights, crashing to the canvas.
Klitschko, whose younger brother Vladimir holds three of the other four world title belts, improved his record to 42 wins and two defeats.
“It was not easy at the start. Solis was pretty fast but he got a hard punch from me. I am so sorry for everybody who wanted a longer fight,” Klitschko said in a ringside interview.
The win means that the Klitschkos could end up holding all five world title belts later this year with Britain’s David Haye, the WBA title holder, taking on Vladimir in June or July.
“You can see why David Haye chose to fight me and not my brother. He was incredible today,” said Vladimir. “David is definitely going to say to Vitaly ‘I will fight you down the road but Vladimir is next because he is weaker’.”
Much-fancied Solis, a product of Cuba’s famed boxing academies, had shed 10 kilos from his previous fight to weigh in at 112 and the 30-year-old was considered by Klitschko as his most serious opponent since Lennox Lewis.
Nicknamed ‘the shadow’, Solis took the fight straight to the champion, landing several rights early in the round.
But as he went for another big punch, Klitschko saw the opening and struck with his own powerful right and then a left as Solis shook before his wobbly legs gave way and he went down after just three minutes.