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Only Thing Short About Vitali Klitschko Is His Shortlist

BY Rick Folstad ON April 26, 2004
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Boxing's newest heavyweight champion of the world wants a little redemption now that he has a world title belt to slam down on the bargaining table.

Of course, if redemption isn’t available, he'll settle for history and a huge pay day.

Win a championship and the big names, who used to laugh behind your back, are suddenly looking at their options. They finally start returning your phone calls, consulting their lawyers and setting dates.

In a perfect boxing world, newly crowned WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko would be gunning for a fight with WBA heavyweight champ John Ruiz right now. Or maybe trying to get a rematch with IBF champ Chris Byrd.

There's even Lamon Brewster to consider slugging it out with, since he holds the WBO title. And, along with the WBO belt, there's always that brother-revenge factor surrounding Brewster, who stopped Wladimir earlier this month. Knock one Klitschko out and sooner or later the other one is going to get in your face.

Like going through the buffet line, it wouldn't make any difference which champ Vitali wanted to feast on first. But whoever it was, you'd think Vitali would like to unify the madness, put a little sanity and order back into the comical heavyweight division. Hang four title belts in the back of his closet instead of one.

But that's not how it works. Not anymore. Following his tough win over Corrie Sanders on Saturday night, Vitali immediately put a quick list together with two names on it: Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

RIP, unification.

It's easy to understand why Vitali wants Lewis. He wants to avenge his loss to the former champ last June. He'd like to have a do-over with Lewis because he was beating him before the gash over his left eye grew big enough to camp in.

But even more important, a rematch with Lewis would make Klitschko a lot more money than a unification fight with Ruiz.

Though he's retired and put on a few extra pounds, Lewis is suddenly looking at his options. He likes the sound of money, and retirement in boxing is seldom more than an extended vacation.

But it's the second name on the list that's the real knee-slapper. Vitali wants to fight Tyson because when he was a 15, he was watching Tyson fight on TV and he made a promise to the TV that he would one day beat Iron Mike.

Of course, everyone from the drunks in your local saloon to the guy who fixes your garage door would like a shot at Tyson. He hasn't beaten a legitimate contender in years, but his name keeps popping up on everyone's hit list when they win a big fight.

Somehow, Tyson is still one of the biggest draws in boxing, but that's because of what he says and does before the fight, not during it.

"It's a dream," Klitschko said of fighting and beating Tyson. "I plan to make all my dreams come true."

Money aside, maybe he should let this dream go.

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