Former EBU heavyweight champion Vladimir Virchis has passed away at the age of 49, according to media reports in the Ukraine. Cause of death appears to have been suicide by hanging and it's reported that Virchis had suffered from depression. 

Virchis' early days as a pro are in Ukraine are a bit sketchy but Oleg Hug, a German-based agent and matchmaker brought him to Hamburg and Universum / Spotlight Boxing and in 2005 he scored a come from behind win against fellow Ukrainian Taras Bidenko.

Virchis then beat Michael Sprott on a controversial decision and then fought Ruslan Chagaev in what was billed as an eliminator for a world title fight.

Chagaev and Virchis engaged in what looked like a dull sparring session with neither man opening up or taking any chances. Chagaev won a close, majority decision and moved ahead to win a world title.

Virchis bounced back and beat Italian Paolo Vidoz in 2006 and 2007 and won and retained the EBU title. A WBC eliminator followed but Virchis was outboxed by Juan Carlos Gomez and went into semi-retirement.

Virchis (26-2) returned a year later and beat Edgars Kalnars but looked like a fighter who wanted to be elsewhere - and it must be said that was the case quite often with Virchis. He often looked the part... big, strong and powerful - but was often content to do just enough, and sometimes not even that, to get the win.