Wladimir Klitschko vs. Francois Botha

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2002-03-16 : Wladimir Klitschko 241¾ lbs beat Frans Botha 241½ lbs by TKO at 0:47 in round 8 of 12

With 35th KO, Klitschko improves to 38-1
Associated Press, March 16, 2002

Wladimir Klitschko VS. Botha 52851320.jpg

STUTTGART, Germany -- Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko stopped South Africa's Frans Botha in the eighth round Saturday to successfully defend his WBO heavyweight title for the third time.

Botha, the former IBF champion, gave Klitschko some trouble in the early rounds with holding tactics, but began absorbing heavy punishment in the fifth.

The 25-year-old Ukrainian, eying a major title fight, improved to 38-1 with his 35th knockout.

The knockout came when the 6-foot-6 Klitschko buckled Botha's knees with a straight left midway through the final round.

Botha caught himself, absorbed several more rights and lefts as he fell backward into the ropes. A short left uppercut then dropped him flat on his back.

"I wanted to pressure him, but it didn't work," Botha said. "He hit very hard. He moved very well for a big man -- I wasn't expecting that."

Klitschko's handlers said their fighter will have his next camp in the United States as he tries to prove that he's the up-and-coming fighter in the division.

The 10,000 fans booed as Botha, 44-4-1 with one no contest, lunged in and tied up Klitschko in the early rounds.

But by the fourth round, his left eye was swollen from Klitschko's jab, and after the fifth Klitschko began to rock him with left and rights.

"I just want a fight soon, I don't want a long layoff," Klitschko said."Against Botha, I just had in mind how Lewis and Tyson did against him."

The Ukrainian has twice planned a big fight in the United States, but bouts in New York against David Izon and Ray Mercer were canceled due to injuries.

Klitschko, incredibly popular in Germany where he trains, has said he wants to get Mike Tyson or Lewis in the ring soon.

"I think Lewis is a little bit more experienced and mature, but give Wladimir four or five fights against the top people and he'll get there," said Botha's trainer, Abel Sanchez.

Botha said he tied up Klitschko at the start because he felt he needed to pressure the big Ukrainian to have a chance as the heavy underdog.

"It didn't work. He's strong and he's got such a long reach I couldn't do anything about it," the South African said.

Both beat Germany's Axel Schulz in 1995 to earn the vacant IBF title, but he was stripped of the crown shortly afterward for testing positive for a banned steroid. [1]

Preceded by:
W. Klitschko vs. Shufford
WBO Heavyweight Title Fight
# 25
Succeeded by:
W. Klitschko vs. Mercer