Boxing Snippets

Corrie Sanders TKO 2 Wladimir Klitschko – 28 March 2003

No one gave Corrie Sanders a snowball’s chance in hell when he entered the Preussag Arena in Hannover, Germany to challenge WBO world heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko.

Klitschko was 11 years younger at 26 as opposed to Sanders who was 37 years old at the time and he was active, having made five successful defenses of the title he won in 2000 when he knocked Chris Byrd down twice on his way to winning a wide decision. The former Olympic gold medalist held stoppage wins over Frans Botha, Ray Mercer (becoming the first man to stop the iron jawed American) and Jameel McCline and was considered the heir apparent to Lennox Lewis who was one fight away from retirement.

Sanders was a quick southpaw with a lighting left but he had only fought a total of three rounds over two fights in the last two years after losing a war against Hasim Rahman. “Corrie was semi-retired,” explains promoter Rodney Berman. “I got a call from Klaus-Peter Kohl (Klitschko’s promoter at the time) offering us the fight. We took it because we were looking to get Corrie one last purse as a retirement send-off.” Did he think that Sanders would pull it off? He admits that he did not. “I was hoping that he will put up a good fight. I must say though, his demeanor before the fight was like Brian Mitchell before he fought Tony Lopez or Sugarboy Malinga before he fought Benn. He was very calm and confident.”

Klitschko started confidently, stalking Sanders who was moving along the perimeter of a small ring, clearly set up to facilitate a Klitschko knockout. With his back to the ropes, Sanders landed an innocuous looking left from his southpaw stance which should have been a sign of things to come. Klitschko landed a decent left hook which got a response from the crowd but then Sanders suddenly exploded into action. He landed two consecutive lefts, flush on the jaw of the champion and put him flat on his back, to the shock of the stunned crowd. Klitschko got back on his feet with a bewildered look on his face, cut above the left eye. Sanders jumped on him, landing another left followed by a storm of blistering punches that send Klitschko slumping back to the canvass. He made it back to his feet and was saved by the bell ending the first round.

The minute rest period was not enough to get the German based Ukrainian out of the fog and Sanders continued where he left off. Klitschko simply could not get out of the way of Sanders’ southpaw left and another one of those deposited him on the seat of his pants. He somehow made it back to his feet but the follow up attack from the South African sent him back to the canvass, face first. The referee had seen enough and waved the fight over at the 0:27 mark of the second round.

Corrie Sanders was the new WBO heavyweight champion of the world!

With the victory he became the third South African to win The Ring magazine’s “Upset of the Year” award, joining the company of Gerrie Coetzee and Vuyani Bungu.

As the years went by, Sanders’ victory only started looking better and better. Klitschko got back in the win column and after a couple of wins, took on Lamon Brewster the next year for the vacant WBO title. He was stopped again, this time in five rounds in a fight where he nearly had Brewster out after succumbing himself. His stay at the top looked all but over but incredibly, he rebuilt his career under new trainer Emanuel Steward, tweaked his style and won the IBF world title, stopping Chris Byrd in seven rounds in 2006. That victory kicked off one of the longest title reigns in heavyweight history. Wladimir Klitschko became a dominant champion, successfully defending the title 18 times during his second reign and adding the WBO, WBA and Ring belts to his collection in the process. He stayed champion for almost a decade, finally losing his title to Tyson Fury in 2015. He fought one more time in 2017, almost regaining the title by dropping and hurting Anthony Joshua before getting stopped himself in the eleventh round in an all-out war. He retired having made a combined 23 successful title defenses over two reigns, which is second only to Joe Louis.

Sanders only fought again a year later, having vacated his WBO title in the process, taking on Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the vacant WBC world title as well as recognition by Ring Magazine as the top big man. Sanders fought valiantly, stunning Vitali Klitschko several times early in the fight with his by then famous southpaw left. Vitali was the tougher of the two brothers though, took the shots and beat Sanders down to an eighth round TKO.

Sanders had three more wins over unspectacular opposition before retiring in 2008 when Osborne Machimana stopped him with a body shot in the first round.

Sanders tragically became another crime statistic when he was gunned down in 2012 during an armed robbery, trying to protect his young son. He died in the ambulance at the age of 46.

Corrie Sanders will forever be remembered for that one brilliant night in Germany when he turned the boxing world upside down.

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