Lennox Lewis I have been wanting to do an overview of the career of Lennox "The Lion" Lewis, one of the greatest heavyweights of the modern era. With my boxing knowledge only going as far back as Cassius Clay's 1960s fights, then my list of great heavyweights would be Ali, Liston, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, Tyson and Lewis. Top three for me would be Ali, Lewis and Holmes. Most of the copy below is not written by me (Wiki, Boxrec, Boxingscene etc etc), I have just chosen the pieces I have liked to represent the defining fights in Lennox's career. Full fight record can be found here : http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/1853 Along with Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield before him, Lewis is one of three boxers in history to have won the heavyweight championship three times. Muhammad Ali famously said to Lewis, “You’re the greatest one there is, like me”. George Foreman has described Lewis as “beyond doubt, the greatest heavyweight of all time”. Lewis’s decision to retire as the reigning heavyweight champion of the world in 2004 reaffirmed his reputation as a man who makes decisions for himself and sticks to his principles. He continues to be the last Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Career defining fights At the 1988 Summer Olympics, Lennox won a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division after defeating future world champion Riddick Bowe in the final. Lewis signed with boxing promoter Frank Maloney and his early professional career was filled with knockouts of journeymen. After he signed with American promoter Main Events, he won the European heavyweight title in 1990 against Frenchman Jean Maurice Chanet. In his next fight in March 1991, Lewis won the British title against undefeated, world-ranked Gary Mason, and in April 1992 won the Commonwealth title against Derek Williams. Lewis was a top-five world heavyweight. He defeated former WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver, 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Tyrell Biggs, former world cruiserweight title holders Glenn McCrory and Osvaldo Ocasio, and journeymen Levi Billups and Mike Dixon. Donovan Ruddock (1992) It was Lewis' most impressive win to date, and established him as one of the world's best heavyweights. Sportscaster Larry Merchant declared, "We have a great new heavyweight." The win over Ruddock made Lewis the number one contender for Riddick Bowe's heavyweight championship. Bowe held a press conference to dump his WBC title into a trash can and relinquished it to avoid a mandatory defence against Lewis. On 14 December 1992, the WBC declared Lewis its champion, making him the first world heavyweight titleholder from Britain in the 20th century. Lewis defended the belt three times, defeating Tony Tucker, whom he knocked down for the first time in Tucker's career, and Frank Bruno and Phil Jackson by knockout. The Lennox Lewis vs. Frank Bruno fight was the first time two British-born boxers fought for a version of the world heavyweight title in the modern era. He defended the title three times before he faced Oliver McCall in 1994. Oliver McCall (1994) After the fight, Lewis decided he needed a new trainer to replace Pepe Correa, who had become increasingly difficult to work with. Correa denounced Lewis in public after being fired. Renowned trainer Emanuel Steward, who had been McCall's trainer during their fight, was Lewis' choice. Even before the fight with McCall, Steward had seen much potential in Lewis and immediately expressed a desire to work with him. He corrected several of Lewis' technical flaws, which included maintaining a more balanced stance, less reliance on his straight right hand, and a focus on using a strong, authoritative jab; the latter of which would become a hallmark of Lewis' style throughout the rest of his career. Their partnership lasted until Lewis' retirement. Oliver McCall II (1997) In one of the strangest fights in boxing history, McCall, who had lost the first three rounds, refused to box in the fourth and fifth rounds. He then began crying in the ring, forcing the referee to stop the fight and award Lewis the victory and the title. Lewis was able to control the first three rounds with his strong left jab while also occasionally landing strong right hands. McCall, meanwhile offered very little offense and only landed 26 punches through the course of the fight. After the third round ended, McCall refused to return to his corner, ignoring the pleas of his trainer George Benton and instead began walking around the ring until the fourth round began. As the fourth round began, Lewis landed a right hook to the side of McCall's head and followed with a right–left combination that just missed connecting. McCall then dropped his gloves and backed away from Lewis into the ropes. As Lewis approached him, McCall turned his back and began walking around the ring. Lewis attempted to engage McCall several times, but McCall refused to fight back and spent the entire round walking around the ring and simply covering up when Lewis approached while also not landing a single punch. After the round ended McCall again refused to return to his corner and continued to walk around the ring. Eventually, referee Mills Lane took McCall, who was now crying, to his corner. Lane and McCall's corner questioned whether McCall wanted to continue to fight to which McCall responded that he did. However, as the fifth round began McCall continued to not fight back even as Lewis landed several power punches. As McCall again turned his back and began to walk away, Lane stepped in between the two fighters and stopped the fight, awarding Lewis the victory by technical knockout. The following day, McCall attempted to explain his bizarre actions at a news conference. He claimed that his refusal to engage Lewis was a type of rope-a-dope strategy and explained his crying by saying he had "wanted to get himself into an emotional state". Regardless, the Nevada Athletic Commission temporarily suspended McCall and withheld his $3 million purse and by early April, he was deemed mentally ill and was sent to a Virginia psychiatric ward. Evander Holyfield (1999) On 13 March 1999, Lewis faced WBA and IBF title holder Evander Holyfield in New York City in what was supposed to be a heavyweight unification bout. Lewis fought a tactical fight, keeping Holyfield off balance with a long jab and peppering him with combinations almost at will. Although most observers believed Lewis had clearly won the fight, the bout was declared a draw, to much controversy. The raw statistics of the fight suggested the bout belonged to Lewis, who landed 348 punches compared to Holyfield's 130. Lewis also out-jabbed Holyfield 137 to 52. Judge Eugenia Williams, who scored the fight in Holyfield's favour, said she saw Lewis land fewer punches than Holyfield. Evander Holyfield II (1999) The sanctioning bodies ordered a rematch. Eight months later in Las Vegas (13 November 1999), the two men fought again in a more open and entertaining contest than the original fight, with the two boxers having some heavy exchanges from rounds six to nine. The punch stats however still clearly favoured Lewis, who landed 195 punches to Holyfield's 137, although interestingly Lewis landed 119 power shots and 76 jabs, showing a definite shift in his tactics from the first fight, when he focused more on the jab. This time the three judges scored the fight unanimously (115–113, 116–112 & 117–111) in favour of Lewis, who became undisputed heavyweight champion of the World. The British public voted Lewis the 1999 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Hasim Rahman (2001) Lewis opted to make his next defense against little-known Hasim Rahman. Lewis came into the fight as a 20–1 favorite and paid little attention to his opponent, having begun negotiations for his long-awaited match with Tyson while also being challenged to a possible unification match by WBA Heavyweight Champion John Ruiz. Brakpan, Gauteng, South Africa, is 5,200 feet above sea level. Rahman arrived on March 27 so he would have time to adjust to the high altitude, but Lewis didn't arrive until April 10. Lewis trained in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is 2,000 feet above sea level. He trained in Las Vegas so he could also film scenes for a cameo appearance in the movie Ocean's 11. After Lewis was knocked out by Rahman, HBO commentator Larry Merchant said, "He just drowned in Ocean's 11." Hasim Rahman II (2001) Lewis immediately sought a rematch with the new champion; Rahman, however, now being promoted by Don King, tried to secure another opponent for his inaugural title defence. Lewis took Rahman to court to honour the rematch clause in their contract. Rahman was ordered to honour the clause and give Lewis a rematch in his first title defence. While promoting the rematch with Rahman on ESPN's Up Close, the fighters got into a brawl similar to the one between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in front of Howard Cosell on Wide World of Sports. Lewis regained the title on 17 November by outclassing and then knocking out Hasim Rahman in the fourth round of their rematch. Mike Tyson (2002) On 8 June 2002, Lewis defended his title against Mike Tyson. Ticket sales were slow because they were priced as high as US $2,400, but a crowd of 15,327 turned up to see boxing's then biggest event at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee. Tyson also had to pay Lewis $335,000 out of his purse for biting him at the news conference announcing the fight, which was originally scheduled for 6 April 2002 in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, however, rejected the fight because of Tyson's licensing problems and several other states refused Tyson a licence before Memphis finally bid US $12 million to land it. By the end of the seventh round Tyson was tired and sluggish, his face swollen and his eyes cut. He was knocked out in the eighth by a right cross. After the fight, George Foreman declared, "He [Lewis] is, no doubt, the best heavyweight of all time. What he's done clearly puts him on top of the heap." This was the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history at that time, generating US $106.9 million from 1.95 million buys in the US. Both fighters were guaranteed US $17.5 million. Vitali Klitschko (2003) Lewis scheduled a fight with Kirk Johnson for June, but when Johnson suffered an injury in training, Lewis fought Vitali Klitschko, the WBC's No. 1 contender and former WBO champion. Lewis had planned to fight him in December, but since Klitschko had been on the undercard of the Johnson fight anyway, they agreed to square off on 21 June. Lewis entered the ring at a career high 116 kg (256½ pounds). Lewis was dominated in the early rounds and was wobbled in round two by solid Klitschko punches. Lewis opened a cut above Klitschko's eye with a right cross in the third round and gave a better showing from the fourth round onwards. With both fighters looking tired before the start of round seven, the doctor advised that the fight should be stopped because of a severe cut above Klitschko's left eye, awarding Lewis victory by TKO. Interviewed about the fight by HBO, doctor Paul Wallace explained his decision: "When he raised his head up, his upper eyelid covered his field of vision. At that point I had no other option but to stop the fight. If he had to move his head to see me, there was no way he could defend his way against a punch." Klitschko's face required sixty stitches. Retirement Lewis announced his retirement in February 2004, to pursue other interests, including sports management and music promotion, and vacated the title. Lewis said he would not return to the ring. At his retirement, Lewis's record was 41 wins, two losses and one draw, with 32 wins by knockout. My favourite Lewis performance (this changes weekly, Rahman II is up there too):- Michael Grant (2000) Synopsis It is my opinion that Lewis was virtually unbeatable in a golden era from 1995-2001. Indeed he did get beat by Rahman in 2001 but Lewis beat himself in that fight as he showed to full effect in the rematch when he absolutely annihilated Rahman in a totally one-sided bout. Both of his defeats were vanquished and he finished his career as the greatest British boxer and in the top three heavyweights in the modern era.