Negotiations for a 6 December rematch began.  After negotiations collapsed, Vitali defeated Kirk Johnson in a WBC Eliminator bout on 6 December date,  setting up a mandatory rematch with Lewis. In January 2004, the WBC announced that it would strip Lewis of the belt if he let pass a 15 March deadline to sign for a rematch with Vitali.  Shortly thereafter, Lewis announced his retirement and vacated the title. For years after this fight, Klitschko would still occasionally call out Lewis, despite the fact that Lewis has been retired since early 2004, for a rematch.