Sanders will frustrate, and decision, Klitschko
Remember those phrases that capture the essence of fraternal love and commitment, "I am my brother's keeper" and "He ain't heavy father, he's my brother"? On Saturday night at the Staples Center, these phrases will ring half true and half false for Vitali Klitschko, who is indeed his recently fallen brother's keeper yet carries the heavy burdens of promoting a show and exacting family revenge.
If this weekend's HBO main event were just about an older sibling waiting around the corner to smack his little brother's tormentor around, then Corrie Sanders might be in for some trouble since Sanders hasn't fought in a year. I say that Sanders might be in trouble because Lamon Brewster finished Wladimir Klitschko off two weeks ago, despite having one year's worth of rust fly off his punches.
This family affair is not as simple as when my ill tempered and fast handed twin brother, Lino, used to wait while I fought kids after school to see if I would win, and then jump in to stomp the kid by himself if I didn't. Rather, Vitali is busy promoting this bout through his K2 promotional outfit, nursing Wlad's wounded psyche, and dealing with the pressure of salvaging a year's worth of hype that the Brothers Klitschko received from HBO, CBS's "60 Minutes," and other mainstream media outlets.
Sanders, on the other hand, has no pressure coming into Los Angeles since he was supposed to have retired last year, but had a lifetime full of golfing interrupted when he made Wlad's chin do a Hindenburg impersonation in a Berlin ring last March. Granted, the southpaw hasn't fought since he kicked over HBO's heavyweight hopeful applecart, but the former Johannesburg cop hasn't been eating donuts all this time either.
Witness Corrie's form in the Maxboxing TV video that cheapskate non-members cannot access. The Afrikaner still wields deceptively fast and heavy hands that allowed him to obliterate a better caliber of B-list opponent -- and do so more convincingly -- than Vitali has been able to despite having showed little hunger for the sport during most of his underachieving career.
Nevertheless, the experience that Sanders, now 39-2 (29 KOs), gained from quickly knocking out the usual suspects is paying dividends because he steps into his straight power punches and follows through at the end of his fist's snap.
It is because of the ring-savvy veteran's ability to settle on his punches that the golf fanatic was able to tee off like Ernie Els on Bert Cooper, Levi Billups, Bobby Czyz, and Al Cole within three rounds apiece. Vitali still paws with the jab and pushes his punches, to the lament of Emanuel Steward, who forged knockout artists by having them step into every punch as if the entire city of Detroit was powering it.
This technique and confidence will trump the wave of kudos that the still mechanical Vitali has been riding by virtue of sending Lennox Lewis into retirement lumpy and spearing former top 10 contender Kirk Johnson.
One has to put these wins in perspective, however, since Lennox was training to fight Johnson originally, before sloppily letting himself get out of shape for his fight with Vitali. Binging on beef patties and cocoa bread did Lennox as much damage as the booming rights of "Ironfist."
Corrie is an in-shape, 6-foot-5, heavy-handed southpaw with nothing to lose and a good chin. This means that Sanders can't be compared to Lewis last June or, Johnson last December for that matter. Furthermore, if light-hitting and small southpaws like Chris Byrd and Vaughn Bean each gave Klitschko a hard 10 rounds, then what will a heavy hitting one do?
A heavy-hitting southpaw will stuff a right jab into Vitali's grill all night to offset his balance and aggression, while simultaneously flustering a now 33-2 (32 KOs) man mountain who doesn't do well against fighters who move (i.e., taking 10 rounds to KO a shook and shot Larry Donald in November 2002).
The South African's surprisingly swift feet and hands will be in constant motion with the intent of making the vindictive Ukrainian become increasingly tired and frustrated because of the California resident's inability to decisively close out the family feud.
This chess match will make the Doctor want to get sadistic like Dr. Giggles, yet might render him into a pensive observer like Quincy M.D. if he doesn't pump, instead of peck, his jab into Corrie's grill quickly and frequently.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, thus Vitali's chances will hinge on his being coolly professional and focused enough not to want to rush into an equally big puncher who will be waiting for a mad dash across the ring. Expect the elder Klitschko to want his revenge served steaming hot, and drop a unanimous decision because of it.