By Ron Jackson
South African heavyweight Corrie Sanders has died after a shooting incident in an apparent robbery at a restaurant in Britz near Pretoria on Saturday night. He was 46. It has been reported that Sanders was shot in the stomach and died in hospital after an operation. He was at the restaurant celebrating the birthday of a family member when police say three gunmen entered the establishment.
Sanders caused a sensation when he stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the second round on March 8, 2003 to win the WBO heavyweight title.
The southpaw Sanders who was born in Johannesburg on January 7, 1966 was an outstanding amateur winning the SA heavyweight championship in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 before joining the professional ranks on April 2, 1989.
In his first fight in Cape Town he stopped King Kong Dyubele in the first round and then racked up another 22 wins with 15 coming inside the distance before being knocked out in the second round by Nate Tubbs at the Carousel, Hammanskraal on May 21, 1994.
On July 27, 1991 he knocked out Johnny du Plooy in the first round to win the vacant South African heavyweight title at Sun City.
He never defended the title as he took on international opponents after the setback against Tubbs and scored impressive victories over fighters like Nikolai Kulpin. James Pritchard, Curtis Shephard, Arthur Weathers and then outpointed Ross Purrity to win the WBU belt.
Unfortunately his career slowed down after this victory as he only had six fights from 1998 to 2002 which included a seventh round stoppage loss to Hasim Rahman in Atlantic City in May 2000.
However, against the odds he went to Hanover in Germany and upset the highly regarded Wladimir Klitschko to take the WBO title.
He then relinquished the title to challenge Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight belt in April 2004 and after holding his own in the early rounds ran out of gas before being stopped in the eighth round.
Following this defeat his career stuttered along as he scored wins over Alexi Varakin and Colin Wilson.
In May 2007 he beat Daniel Bispo from Brazil in a lacklustre performance and in his last fight on February 2, 2008 coming into the ring overweight and in poor condition he was blasted out in 2 minutes 41 seconds of the first round by Osborne Machimana.
He retired with a record of 42 wins, with 31 inside the distance and only four losses.