Just How Good Was Lennox Lewis?

By Boxing News - 08/02/2023 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: Former world heavyweight champion Lennox “The Lion” Lewis was born in West Ham, London, United Kingdom but moved to Canada at the age of 12.

There have been several of the amateur records for Lewis, and 85-12 seems to be the closest.

In the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California, in the second round at Super Heavyweight, he lost to USA’s Tyrell Biggs, 5-0. In 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, he stopped USA’s Riddick Bowe in two rounds for the Super Heavyweight Gold Medal.

In June of 1989, Lewis turned professional living in London, UK. In his twelfth straight win, he defeated former WBA cruiser champion Ossie Ocasio, 22-9-1, over eight rounds in London.

Two fights later, in October of 1990, Lewis won the European title, stopping France’s Jean Marie Chanet, 24-10, in six rounds in London. In his next fight, he added the British title stopping Gary Mason, 35-0, in 7 rounds in London.

Lewis would travel to the US next, knocking out former WBA heavyweight champion Mike “Hercules” Weaver in 6 rounds in Stateline, Nevada.

Two fights later, in November of 1991, he would return to the US, stopping the boxer who defeated him in the 1984 Olympics, Philadelphia’s Tyrell Biggs, 19-4, stopping him after dropping him three times in the third round in Atlanta, Georgia.

In April of 1992, Lewis added the Commonwealth title, stopping Derek “Sweet D” Williams, 19-4, in 3 rounds. In October, he had a rematch with the boxer he lost to at the Canada Junior championships in 1980, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, 3-2.

In this one in the pro ranks, he stopped Ruddock, 27-3-1, billed as the WBC Eliminator for the WBC title in October of 1992, improving to 22-0. Shortly after this fight, he was proclaimed the WBC champion when champion Riddick Bowe refused to fight him. He was the first British boxer to win the world title since Bob Fitzsimmons in 1897.

In December, at a news conference, Bowe threw the championship belt in a garbage can. “If Lewis wants the belt he’ll have to get it out of the garbage,” Bowe said.

In May of 1993, in his first defense, Lewis defeated former IBF champion Tony “TNT” Tucker, 48-1, in Las Vegas, Nevada. In October, he stopped future world champion Frank Bruno, 36-3, in 7 rounds in Wales, UK.

In his third defense, Lewis returned to the US. He stopped Phil “The Enforcer” Jackson, 30-1, in 8 rounds in Atlantic City, New Jersey, improving his record to 25-0.

In his fourth defense Lewis was knocked out by Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 24-5, in 2 rounds in London. He returned to the ring scoring three stoppages with the third one stopping former WBO champion Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 45-2-1, in 6 rounds in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Next, he defeated another former WBO champion in Ray “Merciless” Mercer, 23-3-1, in Madison Square Garden, New York.

Then came the rematch with McCall, who, after defeating Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes he lost to Frank Bruno. This fight was for the vacant title which had the most bizarre ending in boxing history.

McCall refused to fight in rounds four and five, and he cried between rounds. Referee Mills Lane stopped the fight at 0:55 in the fifth round. McCall had been in a drug rehab twice the year before.

Lewis had two defenses, his fourth and fifth, before the year was out. First, he won by DQ over Henry Akinwande, 32-0-1, in 5 rounds. Then he knocked out Andrew Golota, 25-2, in the first round.

In 1998 Lewis defended his title twice first against future champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 30-1, in 5 rounds. Then he defeated Croatia’s Zelijko Mavrovic, 27-0, both in the US.

In March of 1990, Lewis fought to a draw with former cruiser and heavyweight champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 36-3, at Madison Square Garden. In November Lewis defeated Holyfield in Las Vegas, Nevada. In his next three defenses, he knocked out Michael Grant, 31-0, and stopped Frans Botha, 40-2-1 before defeating David Tua, 37-1, making it 12 defenses.

In April of 2001, Lewis was knocked out by Hasim Rahman, 34-2, in 5 rounds. In November in the rematch, Lewis knocked out Rahman. In June of 2002, he knocked out former champion “Iron” Mike Tyson, 49-3, in 8 rounds.

It would be a year later before Lewis made his final defense falling behind in the scoring 58-56 on all cards to Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, 32-1, after five rounds. In the sixth round, the fight was halted by a cut retaining the title by Lewis. The fight deserved a rematch, but Lewis decided to retire from boxing with a 41-2-1 record and 22 by knockout with 14 defenses.

Lewis was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as a ringside analyst for HBO.
Just how good was Lennox “The Lion” Lewis?

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