THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION WHO SHOULDN'T BE

BY Charles Jay ON March 26, 2003
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The 47th Round

On Friday, a purse bid is scheduled in which Corrie Sanders, the new WBO heavyweight champion, has been ordered to defend his title against the WBO's #2 contender, Lamon Brewster.

As you know by now (and if you don't, read the previous chapter), David Tua has taken strong exception to this purse bid, not only because it skips over him as a mandatory challenger, but because it is happening in a rather hasty fashion, seemingly only for purposes of preceding his IBF elimination fight with Hasim Rahman.

Sanders' people are also up in arms, because they obviously see better possibilities for their man - not just against Tua, but perhaps a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, a unification fight against one of the other "champions", or basically anyone else under the sun aside from Brewster, who is an unknown.

If they want to protest or file suit, God bless 'em.

But they should consider themselves lucky.

Because Corrie Sanders probably isn't entitled to be in this position to begin with.

Before achieving the WBO title fight against Klitschko, Sanders had fought a grand total of three rounds in the previous 34 months. At NO TIME during that period did he appear in the world rankings of the WBO.

Part of the reason, granted, is that Sanders held the world "title" of the estimable World Boxing Union (WBU), an organization that is not permitted inside the U.S., for non-compliance with federal law here.

But even after losing that championship to Hasim Rahman in May of 2000, Sanders did not apparently do anything to merit a world rating by the WBO.

After he scored a one-round knockout win over Michael Sprott, a Britisher with so-so credentials, in November of 2001, he was not inserted into the WBO's Top 15.

When, following a year's layoff, he knocked out a mediocre fighter named Otis Tisdale in two rounds, that was not enough to earn him a world ranking either.

As he sat out time to figure out whether he wanted to retire from boxing or not, Sanders obviously did not receive ratings consideration.

It was only at such time as Rodney Berman, promoter for Sanders, commenced negotiations with Klaus-Peter Kohl, promoter for Waldimir Klitschko, and an opponent, acceptable to television (HBO) was required for Klitschko, that Sanders was conveniently inserted into the #11 position by the WBO, thus meeting the requirement for title eligibility.

The fight was agreed to around February 1st. And Sanders all of a sudden appeared in the WBO's February ratings. Mind you, this is THREE MONTHS after the insignificant win over an insignificant fighter (Tisdale), fifteen months since beating Sprott, and more than five years since his last win over a heavyweight who could even be considered world-class, that is, if you consider Ross Puritty, who was Sanders' sparring partner for the Klitschko fight, to be world-class. If you don't, then Sanders' resume was conspicuously devoid of substance. In fact, COREY Sanders - the one from Washington DC - may have better wins on his record (against Oleg Maskaev, for example).

As we pointed out in the previous chapter, Tua indeed has a legitimate beef. I suppose Sanders does too, but guess what? He should have to wait in line behind several other people besides Tua:

Lance Whitaker, Attila Levin, Kali Meehan, Georgi Kandelaki.........

.....and a guy named Hasim Rahman.

Those five are the guys who were sitting in the ratings, positioned at 11-15, before Sanders entered the ranks, without having fought during the preceding three months, and skipped right over them.

Shouldn't the WBO have to offer an explanation, if asked?

I'll be the first to admit that those first four names are not world-beaters. But there's still no accounting for their downward movement in favor of a fighter who had been so inactive.

And Rahman, of course, is a different case. He STOPPED Sanders in that May 2000 fight. And gee, what had the two fighters done between then and February 2003, when Sanders suddenly appeared above Rahman in the ratings?

Well, let's see - Sanders fought THREE rounds, beating Sprott and Tisdale.

Rahman knocked out LENNOX LEWIS. And his two losses were to Lewis and Evander Holyfield - fighters Sanders has perhaps faced - during many daydreams.

And so it goes - another illustration of the process being primarily controlled by promoters and TV networks, with the sanctioning bodies only too happy to follow the money trail. And the same goes for all of them - whether it be WBC, WBA, IBF, or WBO.

That's a fact of business. And a fact of life.

So why should the Sanders-Tua-Brewster triangle be any different?

Or should we say the Berman-Kushner-King triangle?

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2003 Total Action Inc.

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