British heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis has defeated Ukrainian fighter Vitali Klitschko with a sixth-round technical knockout in Los Angeles to retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight title.

Klitschko accepted the bout just two weeks ago when Kirk Johnson pulled out of the fight after suffering a training injury, and the Ukrainian fighter kept the overconfident Lewis off balance in the first two rounds Saturday night.

But the overweight and sluggish Lewis started pounding Klitschko in the third round, opening a nasty cut over his left eye. The fight continued, but Klitschko's cut grew worse, with the entire left side of the challenger's head covered in blood at the end of the sixth round. Dr. Paul Wallace inspected the wound and recommended that referee Lou Moret stop the fight - which he did, drawing boos from the crowd. Klitschko led 58-56 on all three scorecards when the bout was stopped.

Klitschko was dismayed by the referee's decision to stop the fight, as was Lewis, who said he wanted the bout to continue so he could knock him out for real, so they would have nothing to complain about. Fighting for the first time in over a year, the 37-year-old Lewis became the third-oldest heavyweight to retain the title.