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Boxing: McCall's return to ring ends in another farce

OLIVER McCALL'S career seems to be blighted. The man who retired in disarray when he challenged Lennox Lewis has his first fight in 18 months at the weekend but it lasted less than two rounds before his opponent was forced to retire. Samson Cohen fell through the ropes, hit his shoulder on a ringside table and the fight was ruled a no contest.

McCall, the former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, won the first round in Bassett, Virginia, on Saturday night, by landing several quick jabs. Cohen managed one good punch before the round ended.

Cohen started attacking in the second round but went through the ropes after McCall connected with a body shot. Cohen had five minutes to return to the ring unassisted but could not continue.

"I am definitely disappointed in the way it ended," said McCall, who weighed in at 250lb, 22lb over his normal fighting weight. "But I've found out that anything can happen in boxing. The main thing is I got a couple of rounds in."

McCall was released from jail in Martinsville in May after serving about half of a one-year jail sentence for resisting arrest and assaulting a law enforcement officer. He has had a chequered career. He beat Lennox Lewis to win the WBC title in 1994, then defended the title against Larry Holmes in 1995. He then lost his belt to Frank Bruno in a 12-round decision. McCall fought Lewis again in 1997 for the vacant WBC title, but the fight was stopped after four rounds and awarded to Lewis when a sobbing McCall refused to fight. "I was glad to get back in the ring and have a fight but that's not Oliver McCall at his best," he said.

The vacant European heavyweight title has been captured by the Ukrainian Vladimir Klitschko, who outboxed his Gernan opponent, Axel Schulz, for eight rounds in Cologne on Saturday night before the referee called a halt. The 6ft 8in Klitschko dealt Schulz fierce punishment throughout the fight and had the German dangling helplessly on the ropes when the bout was stopped with 18 seconds left in the eighth round.

Klitschko, the 1996 Olympic super heavyweight champion, caught Schulz with a straight left earlier in the eighth, sending the German to the canvas for the first time in his career.

Schulz, who suffered his fourth defeat in 31 fights, did not win a round. Nor did he complain when the fight was stopped. "It didn't make any sense any more," he said. "He had already hit me hard the last couple of rounds."

Schulz, 30, had made a credible losing challenge for the World Boxing Organisation title against Klitschko's brother, Vitali. However he was in trouble from the opening seconds of the fight when a left jab snapped the his head back, but the game Schulz had the 18,500 spectators roaring by coming back punching every time Klitschko sent him into the ropes with hard combinations.

Klitschko, however, was so dominant the only drama was to see how much punishment Schulz could absorb or if he would be seriously hurt. He has now won 29 of his 30 fights, with 27 knockouts.

Klitschko is regarded as a bigger talent than his brother Vitali, who dismantled Herbie Hide in two rounds to take his WBO crown and has knocked out every opponent. A hard hitter like his older brother, he is more mobile. The fight had been eagerly anticipated in both the Ukraine, where the two brothers are heroes, and in Germany.