Vitali Klitschko vs. Kirk Johnson
2003-12-06 : Vitali Klitschko 250 lbs beat Kirk Johnson 260 lbs by TKO at 2:54 in round 2 of 12
- Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
- Referee: Arthur Mercante Jr.
- Judge: Fred Ucci
- Judge: Melvina Lathan
- Judge: Tom Kaczmarek
- WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator
Klitschko Makes Quick Case for a Lewis Rematch
By Michael Katz, New York Times, December 07, 2003
Vitali Klitschko left only one question unanswered last night as heavyweight boxing returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time in three years: Will Lennox Lewis come back to fight him again?
Klitschko, who gave Lewis a terrific fight June 21 before being stopped by cuts while ahead after six rounds, made short work of Kirk Johnson last night in the main event at the Garden before a blizzard-braving crowd of 10,823.
The older, and bigger, of the Ukrainian brothers, Klitschko stopped Johnson with two knockdowns. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. waved it over at 2 minutes 54 seconds of the second round of a scheduled 12-round World Boxing Council title eliminator.
If Lewis does not retire, he will have to fight Klitschko again in what would be a risky but rewarding rematch or be stripped of the title.
Kerri Davis, a HBO vice president, said the fight was great for the sport. "It establishes a megafight in the heavyweight division if Lennox comes back," Davis said. "And I think he was waiting to see if Klitschko made it a super fight."
The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Klitschko, who is not to be confused with his 6-5 brother, never allowed Johnson in the fight. He kept Johnson, a Canadian, at arm's length. Right hand after right hand got closer and closer to Johnson until he was struck, and hurt, by one midway through the opening round.
"He was the better man," said Johnson (34-2-1 with 25 knockouts), whose only previous loss was to John Ruiz. "I had a sluggish night against a man you can't afford to have a sluggish night against."
Besides Lewis, Klitschko (33-2 with 32 knockouts) lost to Chris Byrd when he quit while ahead because of a shoulder injury. Klitschko quickly had Johnson in his corner in the second round.
A couple of body shots to Johnson's soft body, followed by some pounding right hands to the head, had the HBO broadcaster Larry Merchant saying, "He harpooned the whale."
Johnson went down, almost prudently, but Klitschko never let him escape from the ropes. When he went down a second time, the referee wisely stopped it.