Have Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, the Klitshko’s & Gene Tunney Been Forgotten?
By Ken Hissner: This writer recently did an article on Ten Heavyweights which should have included Lennox “The Lion” Lewis, Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, and Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, along with Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney, making it “lucky 13”.
Starting with Lewis, who was 80-11 among other records given and won the Super Heavyweight Olympic Gold Medal at the Seoul, South Korea Olympics and he would turn professional in his birthplace in London, UK, in June of 1989, scoring five wins by stoppage and one DQ the rest of the year.
In June of 1990, Lewis defeated former WBA Cruiserweight champion Ossie “Jaws” Ocasio, 22-9-1 over eight rounds. In March of 1981, after winning the EBU title, he defended against and stopped Jamaican-born Gary Mason, 35-0, in seven rounds, improving his record to 15-0.
In the next fight for Lewis, he stopped former WBA Heavyweight champion Mike “Hercules” Weaver, 35-15-1, in his USA debut. Next, he added the British title stopping former IBF Cruiserweight champion Glenn McCrory, 28-6. At the end of 1991, he stopped the 1984 Super Heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs, 19-4, in the USA.
In 1992 Lewis added the Commonwealth title, stopping Derek “Sweet D” Williams, 19-4. In October, he stopped Jamaican-born Canadian resident Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, 27-3-1. Since WBC Champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe refused to defend against him, Lewis was declared WBC World champion.
Lewis scored a pair of knockdowns in his first defense, defeating former WBA World champion Tony “TNT” Tucker, 48-1, in the USA. Next, he stopped future WBC champion Frank Bruno, 36-3, in Wales. In September, Lewis lost for the first time to Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 24-5, being stopped in the second round. Upon getting up, it seemed the referee prematurely waved it off.
Lewis came back with four wins, including over two former WBO World champions Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 45-2-1, by stoppage and Ray “Merciless” Mercer, 22-3-1, by majority decision, both in the USA. This finally got him a long-awaited rematch with McCall, now a former WBC champion for the vacant WBC title. Between rounds four and five, McCall refused to fight, breaking out in tears forcing the referee to call a halt.
In March of 1999, in the fifth defense since re-winning the title Lewis was held to a split decision draw by WBA and IBF World Heavyweight champion Evander “The Real Deal’ Holyfield, 36-3-1, at Madison Square Garden, New York. Eight months later, in a rematch, Lewis added the two titles held by Holyfield, defeating him in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Three wins by Lewis followed over Michael Grant, 31-0, Frans Botha, 40-2-1, by stoppage, and over David “Tuaman” Tua, 37-1, all in 2000. In April of 2001 in South Africa, Lewis lost his titles being stopped in the fifth round. Seven months later, Lewis would regain the title, stopping Rahman in Las Vegas, Nevada, in four rounds.
In June 2002, Lewis stopped former world champion “Iron” Mike Tyson, 49-3, in eight rounds. In June of 2003, in his final bout behind after five rounds, he stopped former WBO World champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, 32-1, in the sixth round on a cut at the Staples Center in L.A, CA. His final record was 41-2-1, with 32 stoppages.
Let’s pick up on Klitschko’s career at this point. In June 1999, he won the WBO title, stopping Herbie “Dancing Destroyer” Hide, 31-1, in London. After two defenses, he lost to Chris Byrd due to a shoulder injury in 9 rounds well ahead at the time in Berlin, Germany.
Two fights later, Klitschko would win the vacant WBC title, stopping WBU champion Corrie “Sniper” Sanders, 39-2. After his loss to Lewis, he won his remaining thirteen fights, including over Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter 33-1, former WBO champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 51-5-1, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Cuban Olanier Solis, 17-0, and in his final fight stopping Mahmoud “Diamond Boy” Charr, 21-0, in Moscow, Russia, in September 2002. His final record was 45-2 with 41 stoppages.
Next, Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, with a 104-18 amateur record, lost in the finals to Lennox “The Lion” Lewis in the 1988 Olympics. He turned pro in June of 1989 won his nineteenth in a row over former WBC champion Pinklon “Pink” Thomas, 30-4-1, in September of 1990. In his thirty-second fight, the unbeaten Bowe won the WBC, WBA, and IBF world titles, defeating Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 28-0, in November of 1992 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In Bowe’s first defense, he stopped former WBA champion Michael “Dynamite” Dokes, 50-3-2, in the first round. Two fights later, he lost what would be his first and only career loss in a rematch with Holyfield, 29-1, in November of 1993 in Las Vegas, Nevada, by majority decision.
After a no-contest in his next fight against Buster Mathis, 14-0, he won his remaining nine battles over such opponents as Larry “The Legend” Donald, 16-0, Herbie Hide, 26-0, Cuban Jorge Luis Gonzalez, 23-0, and in a third match over Holyfield, 31-2.
A pair of strange DQ back-to-back wins over Poland’s Andrew Golota, 28-0; he retired in December 1996. He would return to the ring with wins over three club fighters in 2004, 2005, and 2008. His final record was 43-1 with 33 stoppages.
Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney turned pro in July of 1915. Four wins followed by a draw, ten wins to follow before another draw, in France while in the Marines.
In May of 1922, Tunney would lose for the first and only career time to future Middleweight world champion Harry “The Pittsburgh Windmill” Greg, 194-10-18, at Madison Square Garden, New York, for the American Light heavyweight title.
Tunney would win his next nine fights before winning a rematch with Greb nine months later. In five fights, Tunney was 3-1-1 against Greb. Before his final win over Greb, he defeated Jeff “The Bayonne Globetrotter” Smith, 135-27-5, and after his last victory over Greb, he stopped Tommy Gibbons, 96-4-4.
Four wins at heavyweight would follow for Tunney when he defeated NBA Heavyweight champion Jack “The Manassa Mauler” Dempsey, 57-4-9, in September of 1926 before 120,557 in attendance at the Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia, PA, over ten rounds.
In a rematch one year later, almost to the day, Tunney survived the Long Count” as Dempsey stood over him for an additional five seconds to go on to win over ten rounds. Tunney would have one more fight-ending his career, stopping Tom “The Hard Rock from Down Under” Heeney, 32-8-5, of New Zealand, in July of 1928 in 11 rounds, at Yankee Stadium, New York. His final record was 65-1-1 with 48 stoppages.
Finally, Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko won the 1996 Olympics Gold Medal at the Atlanta Games in Georgia. In November of 1996, he would turn pro and win his seventeenth straight fight winning the vacant WBC International title, stopping Marcus McIntyre, 15-1, in February of 1998 in Germany.
In Klitschko’s twenty-fifth fight, he lost to Ross “The Boss” Purity, 24-13-1, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Five fights later, he won the EBU title, stopping Axel Schulz, 26-3-1, who in two of those losses were by majority decision to “Big” George Foreman, 73-4, and a split decision for the vacant IBF title to Michael “Double MM” Moorer, 36-1.
In October of 2000, Klitschko defeated Chris “Rapid Fire” Byrd, 31-1, for the WBO title that Byrd had beaten the older brother Vitali for. Five title defense wins would follow before losing to Corrie “Sniper” Sanders, 38-2, in March of 2003, by stoppage.
Two wins would follow when Klitschko lost for the vacant WBO title by stoppage to Lamon “Relentless” Brewer, 29-2, in April of 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In September 2005, he defeated Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare,” 24-0, in an eliminator bout. In April of 2006, he would get a rematch with Byrd, 39-2-1, for the IBF title stopping him in seven in Germany.
Eighteen title fight wins would follow Klitschko before losing to Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury, 24-0, in November of 2015, in Germany. In April of 2017, in what would be his next and final fight, he lost to Anthony “AJ” Joshua, 18-0, in Londo. His final record was 64-5 with 53 stoppages.
There you have it—five “forgotten” world champions.
- Who Was Better Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko?
- Just How Good Was Lennox Lewis?
- The Best Boxers From Around the World!
- In Boxing is Bigger in Size Really Better?