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Klitschko vacates WBC title to focus on politics in Ukraine

Vitali Klitschko is leaving boxing to concentrate on Ukrainian politics and his role as an opposition leader.

Klitschko, 42, vacated his WBC world heavyweight title Monday and said he doesn’t expect to fight again as he pursues a presidential bid in his home country, where citizens have been protesting for weeks in Kiev over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shun closer ties with the European Union and push his country toward Russia.

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The World Boxing Council proclaimed Klitschko a “Champion Emeritus,” a move that would allow him to challenge the new champion directly should he wish to resume his career. He has a 45-2 record, with 41 knockouts, and has not fought since September 2012.

“This offer makes it theoretically possible to return to the ring, which I cannot imagine at all happening as things stand now,” Klitschko said in a statement.

Klitschko is a lawmaker and chairman of the opposition party Udar (Punch) and intends to run for president in 2015.


Diamondbacks trade for Reed

The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired reliever Addison Reed in a trade that sent third-base prospect Matt Davidson to the Chicago White Sox.

“I didn’t think he’d be available, to be quite honest,” Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said of Reed, who had 40 saves last season.

The Diamondbacks finished 81-81 for the second straight year, even though their bullpen tied Houston for the most blown saves in the majors last season with 29.

Reed, 24, is expected to get a chance to compete for the Arizona closer role with former Mariner J.J. Putz and Brad Ziegler.

Davidson, 22, played 31 games for Arizona last season, batting .237.

Axford, Indians agree on deal

Reliever John Axford agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Cleveland Indians, pending a physical.

Axford, 30, ended last season with St. Louis. He had 46 saves and a 1.95 earned-run average for Milwaukee in 2011.

Beckham to have knee surgery

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham is expected to miss at least a portion of next season after tearing a ligament in his right knee during a workout. Beckham, 23, will need surgery.

Meanwhile, Boston outfielder Shane Victorino had surgery to release a nerve in his right thumb. Team officials said Victorino, 33, is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

MLB posting system is finalized

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have finalized a posting system that caps the fee for players at $20 million.

Under the three-year agreement, a Japanese team may make players available between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1 and set a price of up to $20 million.

Starting with the day after a player is posted and continuing for 30 days, any MLB team willing to pay the fee can attempt to sign the player. A major-league team pays the posting fee only if it signs the player.

Under the previous agreement, which began in December 1998 and ran through last offseason, there was no cap on bidding and only the MLB team with the highest bid could negotiate with the player.


‘Go USA’ mittens made in China

The outside of the mittens has the message “Go USA.” The inside says “Made in China.”

Less than two years after being criticized for having the U.S. Olympic team’s uniforms made in China, the U.S. Olympic Committee has another wardrobe controversy on its hands. The $14 red-white-and-blue mittens it is selling to raise funds for winter athletes were produced in China.


Whitecaps promote Robinson

Carl Robinson is the new coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The 37-year-old takes over after spending the last two seasons as an assistant with the Major League Soccer team. Robinson replaces Martin Rennie, who was fired in October after Vancouver failed to make the MLS playoffs.

Barcelona to face Man City

FC Barcelona of Spain will play Manchester City of England in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League.

The home-and-home series starts Feb. 18 in Manchester.

In another high-profile matchup, defending champion Bayern Munich of Germany will face English Premier League leader Arsenal.


• Seattle native Fred Couples and Ryan Moore of Puyallup are among 90 golfers who have qualified and are expected to compete in the 78th Masters, which begins April 10 at Augusta National in Georgia.

Couples won the 1992 Masters. Moore is among players who have won a PGA Tour event since last year’s Masters.

Players can still qualify for the Masters by winning a PGA Tour event (except for the Puerto Rico Open) or by being ranked among the top 50 players in the world on March 30.

• Forward Shawn Thornton of the NHL Boston Bruins has decided to appeal his 15-game suspension for punching and injuring Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik in a Dec. 7 game. Orpik was knocked unconscious and hasn’t played since the incident because of a concussion.

As per the collective-bargaining agreement, the appeal first goes to commissioner Gary Bettman. If Bettman upholds the suspension, Thornton and the National Hockey League Players’ Association can elect to appeal to a neutral arbitrator because it is for six or more games.

Seattle Times news services