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Saturday, December 7
 
Patient Klitschko passes first major U.S. test

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Wladimir Klitschko showed he had a lot of patience, and almost as much power. Together, it was a combination that was simply too much for Jameel McCline.

Wladimir Klitschko
Wladimir Klitschko kept possession of his lightly regarded WBO heavyweight title.

In his first major test against a ranked heavyweight in the United States, Klitschko showed he belonged among the heavyweight elite with a dominating performance Saturday night against McCline.

Klitschko, one of two fighting brothers from Ukraine, methodically worked McCline over until finally dropping him late in the 10th round and winning the fight when McCline's corner refused to allow him to continue after the end of the round.

Klitschko retained his lightly regarded WBO title, but more importantly served notice that he will be a force to deal with in the heavyweight ranks.

"He was tough but simple,'' Klitschko said. "If he would have come out for the next round I am sure I would have ended the fight very quickly.''

Klitschko (40-1, 37 knockouts) won nine of 10 rounds on two scorecards and eight on the third but was fighting so cautiously that there were scattered boos in the late rounds.

"The plan was to take my time and take minimum risks,'' Klitschko said. "I used my head in the ring because I want to use my head again in the future.''

The fight topped a card at Mandalay Bay hotel-casino on which Floyd Mayweather Jr. won a unanimous decision over Jose Luis Castillo to retain the WBC lightweight title in their rematch.

Though Klitschko was dominating the fight, the end came suddenly after a knockdown late in the 10th round. Klitschko had hurt McCline in the fifth round, but in the 10th he landed two left hooks, another left and then a right that put McCline on the canvas in his corner.

McCline (28-3-3) got up at the count of nine as the bell sounded to end the round. But his corner would not allow him to continue.

"I couldn't get the jab off,'' said McCline, who offered no resistance to the decision to quit. "I don't know why, I'll have to look at the tape.''

With his brother, Vitali, helping in the corner, Klitschko fought conservatively early against one of the few fighters who could more than match his size. Vitali is scheduled to fight Lennox Lewis for the WBC heavyweight title in the spring.

McCline's nickname is "Big Time'' and he was an imposing figure in the ring at a chiseled 6-foot-6 and 263 pounds. But McCline was tight, his mouth wide open from the first round on, and he kept flinching as if he were anticipating Klitschko's punches.

It didn't get much better as the fight progressed for McCline, who fought as though he was simply trying to make it through 12 rounds.

"He was physically strong, but he never landed a heavy punch,'' Klitschko said.

The fight was seen as the 6-foot-7 Klitschko's first major test in the United States following an early career in which most of his fights were in his adopted country of Germany.

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine entered the ring at 240 pounds and a 4-1 favorite. It seemed a fair price as he patiently went after McCline, stepping up the pace just a bit after each round in the early going.

Klitschko's punches were not only sharper, they landed harder. He hurt McCline with a left hand with 45 seconds left in the fifth round, then easily stepped out of the way of a wild right McCline threw in return.

McCline's corner kept yelling at their fighter to throw his right hand and get his punches off first, but McCline didn't throw enough punches and landed even less. Through six rounds, he was credited with landing only 42 punches to more than 100 for Klitschko.

Klitschko was almost as careful, so much so that the fighters were drawing scattered boos in the middle rounds for the lack of action.

"They're both going to be cautious,'' former heavyweight champion George Foreman predicted before the fight. "It's too big of a fight for both.''

In the first fight, Mayweather won the rematch of his disputed win in April over Castillo, but he didn't win the crowd.

They booed as he won a close but unanimous decision, taking no chances against the roughhouse tactics of Castillo.

Mayweather remained undefeated in 29 fights and earned $2.4 million.





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