Boxing: KO for Klitschko's heavyweight hopes

The world of heavyweight boxing was as stunned as Wladimir Klitschko last night when the unrated South African veteran Corrie Sanders stopped the Ukrainian giant who had been touted as the heir-apparent to Lennox Lewis 27 seconds into the second round of their bout in Hanover.

Sanders caught Klitschko, the 1996 Olympic champion and holder of the World Boxing Organisation title, with a short, hard left with 33 seconds left in the first round, then sent him down to the canvas three more times. Klitschko, one of two German-based heavyweight boxing brothers, was defending his title for the sixth time and had been confidently expected to dispatch the 37-year-old journeyman in similar fashion to the fate which instead sensationally befel him.

Sanders, never one of boxing's serious players, immediately jumped into the arms of his trainer, apparently as shocked as the audience, though he said: "I gave myself big chances to beat him – I knew I could do it. But I wasn't planning it that way. It just happened."

What happened was that Sanders, after a slow opening minute, went after the 6ft 7in Klitschko, knocking him down three times in the last minute of the round and forcing the referee's intervention after flooring him again with a left hook early in the second.

It was an expensive aberarration for Klitschko, who had been beaten only once before in 41 fights, as he had just signed a nine-fight deal with the American TV organisation Home Box Office who were hoping to sell him as heavyweight boxing's new white hope.

Indeed, the future of heavyweight boxing was deemed to be in the hands of the dignified, erudite sons of a former Soviet air force colonel, Wladimir, 27, and 31-year-old Vitali. Wladimir had been regarded as the better of the two but Vitali is also seen as being more than a handful for most heavyweights outside the élite. He had been lined up to meet Lewis as a prelude to his brother challenging the Briton in what was projected as the endgame of Lewis's career.

Wladimir's prospects of a multi-million dollar fortune collapsed alongside him last night, but at least Vitali has been named as the next challenger for the newly-acquired World Boxing Association heavyweight belt won last weekend by Roy Jones jnr.

Right now the whole town's talking about the Jones boy. The whole world, too. Is he the greatest boxer ever? The question is posed on the front cover of the trade paper, Boxing News, whose editor, after watching the one-time middleweight champion's classy conquest of John Ruiz in Las Vegas to win the World Boxing Association heavyweight title, declared: "Jones is the finest boxer I have ever seen, in the flesh, or otherwise."

This view from the respected Claude Abrams is one that will be contested by many of those who did observe Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali at the peaks of their respective careers. Sugar Ray Leonard, too.

Yes, Jones is a wonderful craftsman, the best, pound-for-pound boxer of the age, a hi-tech stylist. But let's put his achievement in perspective. He beat a lumbering, humdrum Puerto Rican who does not carry a hurtful punch and whose defensive versatility is limited. He did not beat Lennox Lewis, nor would he.

Meantime it is back to reality here. Audley Harrison's 10th – and last – opponent under his current BBC TV deal at Wembley on 29 March will be 37-year-old Ratko Draskovic, an old banger from the Balkans who at least has never been stopped in 32 bouts. Harrison maintains he does have genuine aspirations to succeed Lewis as a British world champion but no doubt he will have noted the untimely demise last night of a fellow former Olympic champion, which proves once again that there is no such thing as a boxing certainty.

Klitschko obviously suspected as much when he said before the fight: "I've read what's written about me, that the future belongs to me, how I'll dominate the heavyweight division. But I know how fast that can be over – it just takes one blow." Indeed it did.

News
peopleChildren leave in tears as Santa is caught smoking and drinking
Arts and Entertainment
A host of big name acts recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in London on Saturday
musicCharity single tops chart
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall has become the eighth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing
tv
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin