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Big Brother Takes Care of Business and other Heavyweight Mud Pies
By Alex Pierpaoli (April 27, 2004) 
Wladimir Klitschko
In a fight that looked more like it should have taken place on the docks with longshoremen cheering every haymaker, Vitali Klitschko gave South Africa’s Corrie Sanders a methodical beating to lay claim to the vacant WBC title. Klitschko, now 2-0 with 2 kayos after being stopped on cuts versus Lennox Lewis last June, joins the other three alpha-belt holders with the 8th round TKO stoppage of the durable but limited Sanders.

If Michael Corleone’s systematic revenge of his brother Sonny was the model of fraternal vengeance, what Klitschko did to Corrie Sanders was the sweaty, bruising equivalent. Sanders crushed Vitali’s brother, Wladimir Klitschko, a year ago in two exciting rounds and on Saturday, the older, more destructive Klitschko avenged his sibling’s defeat. Klitschko jammed a long left jab into Sanders’ mug repeatedly and followed it up with right hand blasts that scored with frightful regularity.

Sanders, who scaled a somewhat doughy 235 pounds for the bout, fought like a folk hero winging bombs at his larger foe with little hope of victory save for landing one well-placed bomb. A would-be professional golfer, Sanders swung his left hand at his larger foe like he was on the driving range wielding a 1 wood. In the first, a huge left by Sanders wobbled the Ukrainian Klitschko, and had there been more time in the round it would have been interesting to see if Vitali could clear his head and keep Sanders from following up.

As the fight wore on Klitschko hammered away at Sanders, who fought much of the bout in brief bursts of violence, winging bombs until he was gasping for breath. Once winded, Sanders was forced to absorb punishment until he regained some energy. By the eighth round Vitali was able to land, almost at will, and Sanders’ offensive resistance had dropped to wild careless swinging that Klitschko was able to avoid. With under a minute to go in the eighth, Klitschko’s bombs had turned Sanders’ face to a pulpy crimson. After six unanswered bolts to the head, Referee Jon Schorle stepped in to rescue the rugged Sanders, who simply refused to be knocked down.

Vitali now joins the other titlists as perhaps, the best of the fearsome foursome that claim pieces of the championship. If he is not the most skilled of the champions, Klitschko is at least the one who most looks the part. Standing six foot seven and weighing two hundred forty-five pounds, Vitali Klitschko is the nightmarish giant that seems built to be the heavyweight king. But before HBO anoints him as Lord of the Unlimited Class, lets remember that little Chris Byrd owns a victory over him and only a unification tournament will reveal who is the best of the four title claimants.

A Public Exorcism at Boxing’s Mecca

He didn’t deserve to be there. He wasn’t exactly on his best behavior either, but considering the last time he fought in New York’s hallowed arena, Madison Square Garden, Andrew Golota exorcised most of his demons in his draw with Chris Byrd. Last time he fought at MSG he did his best to neuter Riddick Bowe with repeated low-blows. But on Saturday the seventeenth, Golota battled with one of the world’s best heavyweights and even though he didn’t win on a majority of the official scorecards, he won the crowd, the night and won back respect, mostly for himself.

Golota didn’t exactly fight within the boundaries of all of the Marquis of Queensbury rules, pressing down on the neck and shoulders of his opponent and chopping at him with the occasional forearm or blow to the back of the head. Before Don King or anyone else can say that Golota’s cured of his tendency toward fouls, let’s remember that the anxiety level he experienced was probably not the same as going into his fights with Bowe, Tyson, Lewis or even Grant. Each of those heavyweights could hit considerably harder and appeared significantly more dangerous than the slapping flurries of Chris Byrd. It could be that Golota’s controlled behavior grew out of the fact that he simply did not fear for his life going into a bout with the IBF title-holder. Heavyweight psychology seems to be a field worth studying and it is fear and how one deals with it that reduces some to tears and makes heroes of others.

A Brief Couple Words on the Unspeakable

What happened to Fres Oquendo? Didn’t he box the hell out of David Tua for most of their fight? On that night he pumped a jab and moved in and out, side to side, using strategic clutching and grabbing, not clutching and grabbing as strategy. Perhaps, as Marotta, Tompkins and Borges, Kingvision’s commentators theorized, it may have been the losses to Tua that turned both Oquendo and Ruiz into the mugging, clutching atrocities we see today.

Oquendo-Ruiz was worse than bad. It was perhaps the worst fight ever fought, very likely the worst ever recorded on film. There is really no need to overstate this, but the bout made Mike Tyson versus Bonecrusher Smith look like a thrilling slugfest.

Wlad the Imploded

This was Las Vegas, the world stage, not the familiar comfort of Germany, and earlier this month Wladimir Klitschko came apart against Lamon Brewster losing his WBO title by fifth round TKO. Even in the early going when Wlad was in charge, his feet were trying to catch up with his punches, so intent was he about sticking jabs in Brewster’s face, preventing him from getting the range on his fragile chin. Despite the slathering of pore-clogging Vaseline as described by Larry Merchant, half of the energy expended by Wlad was pure panic and muscles flexed tight from nervousness. Big men tire quickly, especially when throwing lots of punches and Wladimir was no exception.

In the third Brewster laid the foundation for his upset kayo with smart hard jabs to the mid-section which softened the belly of Wlad, battering his exterior as Klitschko was coming apart on the inside. A hard left hook to the heart by Brewster in the fourth showed that Klitschko was fading as quickly as a photo-negative of Michael Grant with an eastern European accent.

Brewster took Wlad’s stinging jabs and right hand bombs with incredible resiliency and just plain out gutted, the Ukrainian. In the third a huge straight right hurt Brewster—but he went down from the shove that followed the punch, not from the concussive power of the blast.

At the end of four Brewster even pulled Klitschko down in a half tackle just to keep himself alive—how ironic was it that three minutes later it would be Wlad and referee Robert Bird tumbling to the canvas?

In the post-fight interview with Larry Merchant, Brewster acknowledged his lack of a strategy and how it worked to his advantage.

“I would be formless…” he said. Formless he was, and for now at least so is the heavyweight division itself.

Welters and Weight Problems at MSG

What credibility Golota won for himself and for all those involved in the making of the Kingvision spectacle on the 17th, Ricardo Mayorga and his camp did their utmost to sabotage. Billed on the undercard to challenge for the 147 pound title of New England’s Jose Antonio Rivera, Mayorga stepped on the scale at a sizeable 153.5 pounds, just under the limit of junior middleweight. Unable, and from the sound of it, just plain unwilling to try and shed two pounds as requested by the Rivera camp, Mayorga's team expected Rivera to go through with the bout as a non-title match-up. From this point, the fight fell a part because of the fact that Rivera was entitled to a percentage of the fine that should have been imposed on Mayorga by the WBA for coming in overweight.

For Today's Boxing Headlines: The Real Bite
Nobody from Don King Productions returned phone calls to the Rivera camp, and to their surprise, junior middleweight Eric Mitchell materialized as the substitute opponent for the Nicaraguan star.

Mayorga’s arrogant disregard for the effort put forth by his expected opponent, Jose Rivera, was expected; Mayorga is more pug than sportsman. But the NYSAC showed that it is star power that drives much of the behind-the-scenes decision making, not adherence to rules and regulations. Although unable to fight on the card, Rivera might gain some solace from the fact that Mayorga looked painfully ordinary against Mitchell.

Next, as reported last week, Mayorga meets Tito Trinidad in October and when the Pride of Puerto Rico is finished with him, it seems likely we might see just about the last of the overrated brawler, Mayorga.

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