Vitali Klitschko has temporarily put his political aspirations aside for his heavyweight title fight against Manuel Charr.
The 40-year-old Ukrainian is scheduled to defend his WBC title against the German in Moscow on Saturday night.
Klitschko leads the aptly named Udar (“Punch”) party, which is running third in opinion polls ahead of Ukraine’s legislative elections on October 28. He is vehemently critical of president Viktor Yanukovych.
He told reporters on Tuesday he had put his political activity on ice to concentrate on the fight with Charr, 27. But he vowed to return to campaigning after the bout.
"August was the holiday month and my (campaign) team gave me the chance to devote myself to sport," Klitschko said at a pre-fight media conference in Moscow.
"Once the fight is over I will play a more active role in the politics so that Ukrainian voters back our political force to represent them in the Verkhovna Rada parliament, he said.
Dressed in a red hooded jumper and exuding his usual confidence, Klitschko said he would talk more about politics at his party’s major news conference in Kiev after the fight.
The Beirut-born Charr tried to goad his opponent, telling Klitshcko that boxing the Ukrainian was "a present that I have dreamt off all my life" and that he expected to win by knockout.
"There will be no presents on Saturday,” retorted Klitschko, adding that no-one in the world was capable of knocking him out.
Klitschko and his party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (Udar) – founded in 2010 – have become vocal opponents of the controversial Yanukovych and bitterly criticised the jailing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Both Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir, who holds the other major heavyweight titles – were strong supporters of the 2004 Orange Revolution uprising that, for a time, brought pro-Western forces to power.
The most recent polls indicate that Klitschko's party is running third in the parliamentary elections race.
Tags: Vitali Klitschko , Manuel Charr , Klitschko-Charr , Klitschko vs Charr