Corrie Sanders

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Corrie Sanders

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Corrie Sanders is a former WBO heavyweight champion. Sanders was known as a hard puncher, from the southpaw stance. He began his career in the 1990s. He won his first 23 fights but lost by a second round KO to Nate Tubbs. Sanders would move forward with his career and racked up several more victories. In 1994, he was set to fight Michael Moorer for the WBO heavyweight championship. However, due to the fact that Moorer lost to George Foreman, Sanders never received a title shot. Many boxers did not want to fight Sanders because he was considered a "high risk, low reward" type fighter.

Sanders fought on many smaller cards, and admitted it was difficult to get fights. In May 2000, it looked like he would get his big break by fighting Hasim Rahman, a rising heavyweight contender and a top ranked fighter in the three major sanctioning bodies. Sanders knocked down Rahman in the second round and had him hurt. Rahman came back, however, and finished Sanders in the seventh round. Later Rahman admitted, "I've never been hit like that in my life."

After this loss Sanders briefly considered retirement. He thought that no one would want to fight him anyway. But he continued to fight just to make some money on the side. He was a wealthy businessman and a very successful boxer, but was also fighting for the pure love of the sport.

In early 2003, Sanders received a call to fight Wladimir Klitschko on short notice. Over ten heavyweights had rejected offers to fight Klitschko and Sanders immediately jumped at the chance. Sanders was seen as a huge underdog before the fight, due to his lack of experience at the world level and the fact that Klitschko at this time was 40-1 and seen as the heir-apparent to then-champion Lennox Lewis. In the first round of the fight Sanders had Klitschko down twice and nearly finished him. In the second round Sanders finished his opponent. Sanders's left hand was simply too fast and too strong for Klitschko to evade. Sanders had finally achieved his dream of winning the heavyweight title.

Following the Klitschko fight, Sanders was supposed to have a bout against Lamon Brewster, the WBO number one heavyweight contender. Sanders refused; he wanted a big money fight instead. Sanders was then offered a shot at Roy Jones, Jr. for a WBA-WBO heavyweight unification, but the WBO threatened to strip Sanders if he did this, because Jones was not among the top 10 in the WBO's ratings. Sanders finally decided to relinquish the heavyweight title, after Lennox Lewis said he was retiring. The WBC would make Sanders their number one contender to fight for the vacant title. The stage was finally set for Sanders to face the top-ranked challenger Vitali Klitschko.

Vitali Klitschko was coming off of an high-action bout with Lennox Lewis, and had given Lewis a tougher fight than many expected. Because of this, many people thought Klitschko would be the new heir apparent to the heavyweight title because of his close bout with Lewis. Sanders meanwhile, as stated earlier, had beaten Wladimir Klitschko and was seen to be a very live underdog. In fact, many people thought because of Sanders's destruction of Wladimir -- who was generally regarded as better than his brother Vitali -- he could easily defeat Vitali. Also, because of Wladimir's loss to Sanders, many critics decried the Klitschkos as being full of hype anyway.

Very few people expected the Klitschko-Sanders fight to be an entertaining one. Many thought that since the two were such hard hitters, whoever landed first would win. However, come fight-time, the world witnessed one of the most exciting heavyweight bouts in recent memory. The first round saw Sanders stagger Klitschko with a left hand. In round three both fighters went toe-to-toe, prompting HBO-TV commentator Larry Merchant to say, "Whoa! One of the most exciting heavyweight rounds in years." After this first round Klitschko took over the rest of the fight, with close spurts of action from Sanders. Sanders was finally stopped in the eighth round by a Klitschko barrage.

Afterward, Sanders announced plans that he still wanted to fight two or three last fights; a potential opponent was Mike Tyson. However, Sanders would have only one more fight after the Klitschko bout before retiring in the Spring of 2005 when he injured his back in training.

In retirement, Sanders is active in golf and was told by his golf champion friend David Duval that he could qualify for the Professional Golf Association.

Preceded by:
Wladimir Klitschko
WBO Heavyweight Champion
8 Mar 2003–9 Oct 2003
Succeeded by:
Lamon Brewster