Sanders Shocks Maskaev With Come From Behind Kayo

By Kent Appel

18.03 - The Gold Country Casino of Oroville California was the scene of a shocking eighth round knockout victory for heavyweight Corey Sanders of Washington, DC over comebacking heavyweight contender Oleg Maskaev formally from Kazakhstan; now residing in Staten Island, New York. Sanders, not to be confused with Corrie Sanders of South Africa, was behind on all three judges scorecards after seven rounds, one judge by seven points and the other two by five points apiece; when he exploded seemingly out of nowhere with a hard left/right/left combination that knocked Maskaev down at the 2:26 mark of the eighth round. Maskaev arose on wobbly legs and he took the mandatory eight count only to be sent down again from another three punch combo. The referee determined that Maskaev was unable to continue and he awarded the victory to Sanders at the 2:46 mark of the eighth round. I saw the first seven rounds as a shutout for Maskaev by the score of 70 to 63. Sanders, who now has won seven fights in a row, against mostly journeyman competition, improves to 23-6, 15 knockouts; while Maskaev, fresh off a modest two bout win streak, falls to 22-5, 17 knockouts.

After a slow first round which saw Maskaev have a slight edge on the basis of being the busier of the two fighters; Maskaev seemed to set the pace for the rest of the fight in the second round by landing several hard straight left/right combinations to Sanders' head. There were times when Sanders would land hard shots but for the most part, his momentary advantages would be turned around time and time again by excellent counter punching by Maskaev. The times when Sanders didn't press the action saw Maskaev push forward and punish him with hard left/right combinations to the head. This pattern continued right up to that fateful first knockdown and Maskaev was winning the eighth round handily up to that point. It was like I was watching two different fights. One where Maskaev is cruising to an easy decision victory and the other where Sanders is winning by a devastating knockout.

I once said it was going to be hard for Maskaev to comeback from back to back losses to Kirk Johnson and Lance "Goofi" Whitaker in October 2000 and March 2001 respectively and that he was probably through then as a viable contender for the heavyweight title. I also said that he needed to take a step down in competition for a while and get some of his confidence back while he waits for another opportunity to fight a big name opponent. I would have said there was no way he should hang it up after seeing him box beautifully for seven and one half rounds against Sanders and that he was doing exactly what he needed to do to get back in the heavyweight title picture. But after seeing his prospects for a future in the boxing world crumble in about twenty seconds against Sanders, I am just not sure where Maskaev is headed.

Maybe the problem lies in the fact that Maskaev didn't listen to his corner when they told him on a couple of occasions not to stand right in front of Sanders and to give him angles so Sanders would be less likely to connect with effective punches. How would Maskaev know that those now prophetic words would come to haunt him when he was continually beating Sanders to the punch throughout the whole fight right up to his devastating knockout loss?

As for Sanders, for almost twenty-four minutes Sunday night he almost verified what I have always thought about a smaller fighter; in this case Maskaev, at 6'3" 238 pounds with better skills being able to defeat a much bigger and stronger opponent, Sanders at 6'6" 312 pounds. We will have to wait and see how Sanders does against his next world class opponent. But for now at least he is on a roll and he is a hot commodity. One thing for sure is we can never know for certain how any fight is going to turn out, especially in the heavyweight division. We also can never count out Corey Sanders from victory until the end of a fight. What the great baseball sage Yogi Berra says is true, "it aint over til it's over!"



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