For the sake of truth in advertising, K2 Promotions, the company recently formed by Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko to market their fight cards, may have to regroup under an arithmetically-adjusted banner. But at least following Vitali Klitschko's brutal pounding of Corrie Sanders for the vacant WBC heavyweight tide last Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, there is still a K to promote. And, considering the fun everybody seemed to have watching the 6'8" Ukrainian rain blows on his undersized and undertrained opponent, K1 could well be all the K we'll ever need.
Although the Klitschko brothers have long hoped that they would one day reign together (there are, after all, four titles, of varying credibility), most knowledgeable observers thought that if one of these air-force-veteran, four-language-speaking Ph.D.'s was going to succeed in this sport, it was probably going to be the younger, somewhat more athletic, less robotic Wladimir.
Yet it's Vitali—not entirely ungainly, no matter what you've heard—who now rules the rather sad roost that has become heavyweight boxing. After a two-week span in which all four of the division's entities held title bouts (including the WBO match on April 10, when Wladimir was knocked out by Lamon Brewster), Vitali is the sole bona fide heavyweight champion, someone big and tall who likes to punch hard.
This distinction is as much by pedigree as performance, since his title is the one vacated by the last true champion, Lennox Lewis. And don't forget, it was Vitali who was giving Lewis all he wanted last year before being stopped on cuts. Lewis chose retirement—and, by the looks of him at ringside on Saturday, the buffet table-over a rematch.
The elder Klitschko may be champion in a time of reduced standards, but he does not provoke boredom, as the other champions do. When faced with the same South African who flattened his brother a year earlier (the sibs look out for each other), Vitali did not choose caution. Rather, he stalked the 38-year-old Sanders mercilessly.
Sanders, a fellow given to big-game hunting on his 1,000-hectare ranch, says he prefers golf to boxing and was considering campaigning for a European tour card before his surprising victory over Wladimir revitalized his stalled career. He said training for this fight turned his scratch game into a two handicap, but judging by his physique, he still must have spent plenty of time at the 19th hole.
His strategy in this fight was to be entirely reactive, hoping to lure the bigger Klitschko into a counterpunching duel, during which—in one of Sanders's 30-second bursts of fighting each round—he'd nail him with his big left. But Vitali, who is nowhere near as fluid as his brother, is too smart (and too sturdy) to be felled by such a ploy. After nearly eight rounds of one-sided and fairly persuasive potshotting by Vitali, the referee decreed that enough was enough.
"A big relief," said Vitali of his victory. He still hopes his brother will one day join him on the champions' podium but is nonetheless happy to have the attention solely on himself for a change. "I feel a huge weight off of my shoulders. Now I am out of the shadows."
He wants to lure Lewis out of retirement but, failing that, is now confident enough to entertain all sorts of ideas for his next fight—Mike Tyson is one possible opponent he mentioned after Saturday's bout. "Since I was 15 years old, I've had a dream to fight Iron Mike," he said, "and I always try to make my dreams come true."