“Dr. Steelhammer” Wladimir Klitschko paid tribute on Thursday to slain former WBO heavyweight champion “The Sniper” Corrie Sanders who died early Sunday morning at the age of 46 from gunshot wounds suffered the night before during an armed robbery at a restaurant in his hometown of Pretoria, South Africa.
In one of the biggest upsets in the annals of boxing, the 6-foot-4 Sanders (42-4, 31 KOs), who took a bullet in the hand and stomach while trying to shield his teenage daughter during his nephew’s 21st birthday, floored the legendary Klitschko (58-3, 51 KOs) three times before knocking the mammoth Ukrainian onto Queer Street to earn a second round triumph at the Preussag Arena in Hanover, Germany.
“The loss against him changed a side of my character tremendously, it made me tougher and it made me better,” said Klitschko, 36, whose only other losses came at the hands of Lamon Brewster and Ross Purity. “Without my experience with Corrie I wouldn’t be the same way.”
Klitschko, who has triumphed in 15 consecutive bouts since being TKO’d by Brewster in April 2004 and has now managed to defend his belts on 13 straight occasions, continued to praise the slugging southpaw.
“Before and after the Corrie Sanders fight, nobody beat me the way he did,” said Klitschko, who is trying to threaten Joe Louis’ longstanding record of 25 successful defenses. “The boxing world will remember Corrie as a heavy hitter and a good man. I have nothing bad to say about Corrie at all,”
Loaded with seedy lowlifes, Sanders was “a good man” in a troubled sport.
In death, Corrie Sanders, whose funeral will be held Monday, proved to be as brave outside the ring as he was inside of the squared circle.
“The boxing world will remember Corrie.”by