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Klitschko Wins: It Still May Be Too Soon to Tell
By Wayne Richardson (April 25, 2004) 
Vitali Klitschko
Photo © Brendon Pierpaoli
It still may be too soon to tell, but it looks though the people have found a heavyweight to call the Peoples Champion. Judging by the cheers from the 17,000 plus and strong at Staples Centre along with the unofficial poll on HBO, Vitali Klitschko is on his way to being recognized as official champion in a fractured division with four title holders. His eighth round stoppage of South African Corrie Sanders may have not been technically pleasant, but in terms of excitement, it was clearly the best heavyweight title match up of the four shown this month. Klitschko outlasted a game Sanders by using his conditioning and good chin to weather the initial attack that had caught his brother off guard last year. In the early rounds it looked as if Vitali was going to be the second brother to fall to Sander’s huge left hand especially when he was staggered in the first after following Corrie in to the ropes and into his trap to counter off the Ukraine’s jab.

Sanders never had much of a game plan other than to hope he caught Vitali flush and judging by his ample mid section it was to be done early in the fight. He came out hard landing some big shots in the first round and stole the round away from Klitschko who started out with stiff movement and a pawing jab, seeming over conscious about defense. However after feeling Sanders power, he relaxed and set to work stalking a moving opponent throwing his standard left right combination to body and head while his opponent looked for any opportunity to sneak in a power lead left. By the third round, both fighters looked tired, with Sanders a bit more so, but still dangerous as he attacked in spurts igniting a furious exchange at the end of the round that saw both hit with punches that hurt each other though Vitali came out on top.

The match was much of the same give and take until the middle of the fifth when Vitali’s pressure was wearing on Sanders who was hurt by combinations, but never gave up trying to land. The sixth round was a last attempt effort for Corrie to land something as he drained the tank throwing wild shots at Klitschko who weathered the storm and put heavy pressure on Sanders from then on. Throwing his standard combination he did mix in a couple of hooks and battered the South African, bloodying and swelling his face until the referee mercifully stopped it with fifteen seconds left in the eighth. Sanders gave a tough show and finished on his feet a testament to both his strong chin and Vitali’s fatigue.

For Today's Boxing Headlines: The Real Bite
Klitschko needs improvement, especially in his defense where he would lean back away from punches. This puts him off balance and an easy target for a puncher coming in with combinations, his foot movement was stiff and his jab was lazy. He wasn’t as impressive as he was against Kirk Johnson, but in his defense he was facing a man who can make a fight look messy and had knocked out his little brother. The pressure was definitely on him to perform and he showed heart and a mental strength that can carry him through tough matches.

It wasn’t a pretty fight with a domineering champion and Vitali may have not looked like the best out there, but he is going to be the most recognized champion of the four by the mainstream public. The best proof of this is CNN televised the results of the match saying we have a new heavyweight champion, something that was never said in the last three title matches of the month. If he can make a good defense of his title or unify, then he may get recognition from the boxing world as well..
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