20 years ago today, heavyweight great Vitali Klitschko arguably scored the biggest win of his career. “Dr. Iron Fist,” one winning fight removed from his tough and bloody loss to fellow great Lennox Lewis (this Vitali’s most famous fight, albeit a losing one), met Corrie Sanders for the vacant WBC title.

The fight held in Los Angeles meant a whole lot to Klitschko, this as A, it was for the WBC title, and B, the fight would give him the opportunity to restore the Klitschko family name, southpaw Sanders having flattened Vitali’s kid brother, Wladimir, the year before. That win saw the South African win the WBO heavyweight strap, but Sanders had by now vacated that belt, while Lewis had retired (denying Vitali, and we fans, a rematch), thus vacating the WBC title.

Klitschko was 33-2(32) upon entering the ring at Staples Center, while Sanders was 39-2(21). The fight was dubbed “Let The Next Era Begin.”

Fans were treated to an exciting, memorable slugfest.

Sanders, who was nicknamed “The Sniper,” got home with some big left hands to the head, yet Klitschko’s granite chin never failed him. It turned out Sanders won only the opening round on all three cards, but Sanders was a very game co-challenger, and he never stopped trying to take Klitschko down. It was fan-friendly stuff all the way, and round eight proved to be special.

Sanders shook Klitschko perhaps harder than anyone ever did during his long career in the 8th, this with two right hooks that landed heavily on Vitali’s head. But again, Klitschko was in possession of a great chin, as it turned out, one of the best in the division’s history, and he roared back at Sanders. Now bleeding from the nose and close to gassing out, Sanders was suddenly hurt by a Klitschko right, the fight now turned completely around.

Klitschko pounced and he landed around 20 unanswered blows. Stopped on his feet, the teak-tough Sanders was later taken to the hospital for treatment on a haematoma of his left ear. Klitschko said he was “surprised he never went down,” telling reporters that Sanders “took so many punches it was unbelievable.”

It was indeed, and both men earned their pay on this night. Klitschko was now the WBC heavyweight king, and plenty of fans felt he was the best of the reigning heavyweight champions; the other three belt-holders being Lamon Brewster (WBO), Chris Byrd (IBF), and John Ruiz (WBA).

In time, Klitschko would prove himself as a great heavyweight. But what a shame it remains that “Dr. Iron Fist” never got that shot at revenge against Lewis. Sadly, Sanders died in September of 2012, when he was shot and killed during an armed robbery. Sanders was just 46 years of age.

YouTube video

Read the full article here