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Newz Forum: BOXING: Klitschko Expects War With Sanders

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posted on Apr, 21 2004 @ 11:33 PM

AP Sports Writer
Vitali Klitschko wants to exit the arena smiling instead of scowling this time, and leave his fans cheering rather than booing.

Klitschko, who lost to Lennox Lewis on cuts at Staples Center last June, gets another shot at the heavyweight title Saturday night, facing Corrie Sanders for the WBC version left vacant when Lewis retired.

"I didn't lose that fight. Everybody was unhappy. I was very disappointed," said Klitschko, who was ahead on points but bleeding heavily around his left eye when Lewis was declared the winner after the sixth round.

"Now I know I am going against a very strong fighter in this fight, and I will give it all my best."

Lewis is back, but as an adviser to Sanders, the 38-year-old South African who seemed just another fighter down in the ranks until he stopped Klitschko's brother, Wladimir, in the second round on March 8, 2003.

Sanders won Wladimir Klitschko's WBO heavyweight crown, but vacated it without making a defense.

The win, however, certainly cast Sanders in a different light in the heavyweight picture.

"Wladimir was considered one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division, and now I'm getting a lot of respect around the world," said Sanders, 39-2 with 29 knockouts. Vitali Klitschko, a native of the Ukraine, is 33-2, with 32 knockouts.

Predictably, Lewis predicts Sanders will win.

"All he has to do is hit him in the face," Lewis said. "Once you've been cut very bad in boxing, especially three or four cuts in the same vicinity, if you hit that spot a few times, it should open up.

"Of course, you never know if that is going to happen in this fight."

Although he was behind on points when he fought Klitschko, Lewis felt he was picking up steam while the challenger was tiring.

"Stamina was definitely going to be a factor," Lewis said. "I was beginning to come back."

Wladimir Klitschko, considered by many to be the better boxer of the brothers, has been vulnerable to being knocked out. He was stopped by Lamon Brewster in their recent bout for the WBO heavyweight title.

Lewis indicated that Vitali probably can take a punch better than his brother.

"I hit him with some good shots," Lewis said. "I think he showed the world that he's a heavyweight who should be taken seriously."

That was Lewis' final fight before he retired.

Vitali Klitschko's only loss before the Lewis fight was to Chris Byrd.

Klitschko said he and his brother still have a dream of being world champions at the same time, but acknowledged Wladimir's recent loss was a setback.

"Maybe the dream will just take a little bit longer," Vitali said. "I'm doing everything I can to make our dream come true."

Sanders said the brothers seem to have similar styles.

"Wladimir has more skills, but Vitali is stronger and tougher," Sanders said.

Vitali Klitschko, 32, is some 3 inches taller than the 6-4 Sanders.

"Bigger, taller, if you can hit a guy with the proper shots, he can go down," Sanders said. "Anybody."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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