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  CyberBoxingZone, March 9, 2003

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Blitzkrieg In Hanover:
Klitschko Bombs On HBO


“Wladimir Klitschko seems so perfect you wonder what's wrong with him," HBO's Larry Merchant mused just before the opening bell sounded last night in Hanover, Germany, where the WBO heavyweight champ Klitschko (40-2, 37 KOs) took on South African veteran Corrie Sanders (39-2, 28 KOs).   
Sanders, known as a fast-starting southpaw with 18 of his 28 KOs coming in the first round, showed what's wrong with the highly-regarded (er, over-hyped) Ukrainian: Specifically, an inability to avoid, and absorb, big left hands that sprawled him on the canvas twice in the first round and twice in the second, at which point the bout was justly stopped 23 seconds into the round.  
We all recognize that no weight division in boxing is as topsy-turvy as the heavyweight's; only there can a fighter go from journeyman to heavyweight champ back to journeyman before you can say Hasim Rahman.  But things have gotten out of control.  Can some real legitimate heavyweight contenders please stand up!  Do any really exist?  HBO has been campaigning hard for the white, handsome, chess-playing Goliath, Klitschko.  To their chagrin, it appears he is not the answer.  While he did show heart by getting up from the first three knockdowns, and attempted to rise from the fourth, a china chin such as his is beyond repair.  Sure, the real heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, has one too.  But with two notable exceptions against Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall (both fights avenged), he's managed to avoid getting hit flush using that long masterful jab of his.
Speaking of the jab.  One of the impressive features of Klitschko's offensive arsenal going into this fight was his jackhammer jab, and the aplomb with which he used it to set everything else up.  It was no where to be seen last night.  Instead, he just pawed at Sanders with it, who kept his hands high and easily met it with an open right mitt.  All the while, Sanders kept his lead right foot outside of Klitschko's lead left, thus allowing his heavy left hand a clear path to the 26-year-old's untested chin.  This is Boxing 101 for a southpaw against a conventional boxer, it must have been a class in which the PhD Klitschko took an incomplete.  Indeed, he seemed totally unprepared for the velocity (Sanders has unusually fast hands), odd geometry, and power of the Afrikaner's straight left.  I could burden you with details but all it took was a few rights, a few lefts, and the kid was plowing canvas with his nose.
Several factors might have hastened Klitschko's early demise.  Ross Puritty, the only fighter to have previously beaten him as a pro (back in '98), was employed as Sanders' chief sparring going into the fight.  Also, during the long pre-fight introduction, in which both boxers' respective national anthems were sung, Klitschko stood stock-still.  He was bone-dry when the fight began, and still hadn't worked up a sweat when he got stopped in round 2—a recipe for disaster.  You have to really wonder what boxers and their corners are thinking when this kind of cardinal sin occurs?
The American maxim of “Bigger Is Better" has been getting knocked down in the world of boxing lately.  First the 6'7'' freakishly muscular Michael Grant turns out to be a paper tiger, then John Ruiz's 30-pound weight advantage over Roy Jones last week comes to mean nothing, and now the 6'6'', 242-pound rippling Wladimir Klitschko gets annihilated by Corrie Sanders (who, by the way, weighed 224, had a three inch disadvantage in reach, and has the muscle-tone of your average middle-aged weekend warrior.)  It's enough to make me start playing that past vs. present game of “what if": What would happen if you put a 182-pound Marciano in there against some huge 260-pound beast?  Not long ago, I would've said, “Sorry, but the Rock don't stand a chance."  Now, I'm thinking, “These big guys today, they couldn't hold his jock."




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