Lennox Lewis Vindicated With 4th
Round KO Over Hasim Rahman
By Alex Pierpaoli
- Lennox Lewis is Heavyweight Champion again after
knocking Hasim "Rock" Rahman out with a
left hook-right cross combination in the fourth round
at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Lewis dominated
the fight from the start with sharp stinging jabs,
superior footwork, and a focused sense of menace seldom
seen from this present-day Heavyweight Great. Rahman,
who dominated the weeks of hype and psychological
posturing leading up to tonight's fight, never got
a chance to land any damaging punches and was on the
receiving end of a beating which probably solidified
Lewis' spot as the dominant Heavyweight force of the
last five years.
Lewis, who came to the ring wearing
a cold, glazed look, with mayhem on his mind, was
in control from the opening bell and cut Rahman over
the right eye before the first minute expired. While
it was Rahman's jab in round one of their fight in
South Africa that brought the fight to Lewis, tonight
it was the reverse. Lewis pumped numerous jabs into
the face of Rahman, breaking his rhythm and halting
his forward motion. By the end of the first, Rahman
was able to squeeze off a few jabs of his own, but
Lewis was able to use his reach and careful footwork
to get his jab to the target, Rahman's chin, far more
the clinches Rahman cracked at the ribs of Lewis with
his free right hand in hopes of breaking down the
body and softening Lewis up for the later rounds.
But Lewis owned the exchanges at a distance and kept
the fight in the center of the ring, constantly forcing
Rahman to turn and follow him as he popped him with
jabs, left hooks and right crosses. Rahman followed
Lewis with his right hand cocked back waiting for
an opening which, unlike in South Africa, never came.
Rahman was unable to mount much of an offense because
of Lewis' well-timed straight punches with kept Rahman
at a safe distance where Lewis could crack him and
not have to worry about being countered. While their
first meeting showed Lewis was very vulnerable to
a strong, decent heavyweight, the rematch proved that
Lewis was the far more skilled athlete and the knockout
loss was more of a single aberration in a long career
than a sign that Lewis' best days were behind him.
the fourth Lewis fired a left hook which brushed the
jaw but got Rahman to react just enough to miss the
monstrous right cross which followed and sent him
reeling to the canvas. Rahman started to his feet
only to fall forward again into Lewis' corner where
Referee Joe Cortez reached the count of 10. Lewis
beat his chest after the kayo and celebrated with
his handlers proving that what he's been saying for
the last seven months was true, the loss in South
Africa was just a fluke, a speed bump along the road
to heavyweight greatness. After vanquishing Rahman,
Lewis draped the championship belts over his 246 pound
frame and shouted into HBO's camera: "I told
you they were on loan!" Lewis went on to tell
HBO's Larry Merchant he had hoped to re-name Rahman
"Has-been." Fittingly, Lennox got his wish
with a single right hand similar to the one that Rahman
landed on him back in April.
the victory, Lewis became one of only a handful of
men to regain the Heavyweight Championship-Muhammad
Ali, Floyd Patterson, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson
all regained the title a second time. This is actually
the third win for Lewis which ties him with Holyfield
and Ali as three time winners, although there should
be an asterisk next to Lewis' accomplishment as the
WBC title was vacated by Riddick Bowe and then awarded
to Lewis before he lost it to Oliver McCall and then
won it back in a rematch.
After a dominating victory such as
the kayo over Rahman, it is easy to imagine Lewis
against the past great heavyweight champions. Because
of his enormous size and strategic boxing savvy, Lennox
Lewis would do well in a tournament of all-time greats.
The problem for Lewis is in capturing the imagination
of the fans, especially the American public. If Lewis
fought the way he did tonight more often by coming
into the ring to do damage rather than simply to outbox
an opponent, he would certainly become more of star
in the States.
Above all else tonight's victory proved
that when Lennox Lewis is focused on the business
at hand there is not a heavyweight alive that can
beat him. Photos: AP
LENNOX LEWIS: STRIVING
FOR A PLACE IN HISTORY
By Adeyinka Makinde
- Lennox Lewis' four round destruction of Hasim Rahman
in Las Vegas has given Lewis the twin satisfaction
of revenging his loss to Rahman and garnered him a
third heavyweight championship. But whether this will
enable him to take his place among the pantheon of
all-time great heavyweight champions is quite another
matter. Rahmans knock out of Lewis, seven months earlier
in South Africa, as unexpected and as shocking a defeat
by a journeyman fighter of an incumbent champion as
ever happened, will go down as one of boxings great
upsets along with James Braddock's win over Max Baer
and James 'Buster' Douglas' knock out of Mike Tyson.
Yet, the suspicion is that Lewis, who is universally
regarded as having taken Rahman and his training regime
much too lightly in the earlier contest, was merely
restoring the natural order of things by winning a
title which he should not have lost in the first place.
Many have argued before the return bout that even
a win against Rahman would not be enough to rank him
among the heavyweight elite of the ages. Is this fair
In attempting to assess Lewis' reputation
in the scheme of boxing history, it is useful to note
that most great fighters and exceptional ones at that,
do not appear to be granted the esteem and kudos which
they deserve until well beyond their fighting careers.
As with characters in history, the reputations of
pugilists ascend and diminish with the passage of
'To historians is granted a talent
that even the gods are denied -to alter what has already
happened' goes a rather cynical adage. And boxing
is no different. Peruse the corpus of decades old
boxing journals and one is struck by the contrast
in early estimations of fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson
with contemporary schools of thought. Robinson tended
to be ranked below the likes of Stanley Ketchel and
Harry Grebb up to a decade and a half after his career
ended. A similar pattern appears with Ali. Even after
his 'impossible' achievement of relieving George Foreman
of his championship in 1974, one poll of 'experts'
in the middle 1970's ranked Ali below Jack Dempsey.
The picture today, is vastly different. Few would
fail to grant Robinson the accolade of the greatest
fighter in history while only Joe Louis and occasionally
Jack Johnson are ever ranked over Ali.
The measurement of greatness is ultimately
a subjective exercise. Athletic prowess and techniques
develop over the course of time and this is a quite
pertinent issue where the heaviest division in the
boxing game is concerned such that it becomes ludicrous
to believe that Jack Dempsey could ever cope with
a modern, substantively weighing and competent heavyweight.
The same goes for Rocky Marciano. (Does any sane,
rational person truly believe that taking size and
styles in to consideration, that Marciano could have
beaten Sonny Liston?) So, one may turn to the criteria
of being consistently the best in your era. Here few
could match Marciano. Still, subjectivity does not
preclude an attempt at referring to objective standards.
How we should ask ourselves does Lennox Lewis compare
in relation to quality of opposition, power of punch,
stamina, ability to absorb a punch and longevity of
described as 'lackadaisical'. 'amateurish' and plain
'boring' Lewis's style does not lend itself to the
panegyrics used to describe many a great fighter.
Lacking the fire and relentlessly aggressive ploys
of a Dempsey, the classical punch combinations of
a Louis, the workhouse ethic of a Marciano or the
improvisational brilliance of an Ali, Lewis' boxing
methodology provides little for us to summarise into
a clearly definable type. But Lewis is more substantive
a fighting character than many a heavyweight in history.
Even the great Larry Holmes had a 'style' which taken
alone was not particularly exciting to watch. As a
puncher Lewis has on occasion, and not nearly enough
for the liking of many who feel his bountiful physical
advantages should have enabled him to better employ
more frequent manifestations of forceful punching,
displayed a ferocity that verges on the best one could
hope a great champion could display. The destructions
of Razor Ruddock, Andrew Golota and now Hasim Rahman
attest to this. As far as stamina is concerned many
will remain sceptical at his abilities here given
that he has finished many twelve round bouts fairly
lagardly and open mouthed when the likes of Ali and
Louis gamely completed the then mandatory fifteen
round championship distance on numerous occasions.
In respect of longevity, Lewis it should be said has
done well. Plying his trade as a top echelon heavyweight
for over a decade is no mean feat. However, Lewis'
knock out losses to journeymen mediocrities of the
ilk of Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman serve as a serious
impediment when one considers the issue of the fighters
ability to take a punch. Joe Louis was knocked out
early in his career by a seasoned but far from aged
former world champion Max Schemeling. Muhammad Ali
was never knocked out period. And even if Larry Holmes
spared him this indignity, Ali's stoppage loss to
Holmes occurred when he was very well past his best
and essentially in poor health.
other serious drawback for Lewis relates to that criterion
which is concerned with 'quality of opposition.' But
here one must exercise caution before sailing to judgement.
The reason is quite simple: It was not Lewis' fault
that he did not face the best at their best. Boxing
politics, rape convictions and legitimate inferences
that he was avoided at critical junctures by both
Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson all conspired to deny
Lewis the opportunity of stamping his authority on
this era of boxing. It is true that some great fighters
famously never met. Jake La Motta for one, never swapped
blows with Rocky Graziano and Ken Norton never got
it on with Joe Frazier. Yet, it may be argued that
these gaps are nowhere as palpably gnawing as the
lacunae that Lewis' reputation will endure in future
historiography. The only comparison which comes to
mind concerns the non-fight between featherweight
champions Azumah Nelson and Barry McGuigan. That omission
was a symptom no doubt of boxing politics. (It should
be noted in all frankness that Nelson would have being
favoured to win that bout and that McGuigan, whom
the Ghanaian took to referring as "she,"
was straightjacketed by his manager Barney Eastwood
who did not fancy much his charges chances.) It is
difficult to see how Lewis can surmount this. Bowe,
at one time a worthy looking champion who had lost
to Lewis while as amateurs, rapidly deteriorated and
is deep in retirement. Tyson, on the other hand, was
felt by many to be in a steep decline even before
his enforced absence from the boxing scene. Lewis,
it can be argued, is part of an 'unfulfilled' era;
one that is, in which each of the participants by
virtue of talent and potential might conceivable have
come close to rivalling the earlier era of Ali, Frazier,
Foreman and Holmes. Indeed, the imagination marvels
-and laments at the glories boxing has missed had
circumstances allowed for Lewis to meet Bowe and Tyson
when the former was at the peak of his game and the
latter would still have being something at his peak.
As it stands, Lewis may have to settle
for the consolation prize of the latter day Mike Tyson.
It has been suggested that such a fight might while
falling short of creating the legendary stature of
a true great might anoint the victor with the lesser
honorific of 'greatest fighter of his generation.'
Where that leaves Evander Holyfield, twice a victor
over Tyson and a disputed loser to Lewis in their
return bout, is another matter.
Lewis should be lauded for his win over Rahman. It
is always difficult to comeback. It took around seventy
years of Marquis of Queensbury Rules boxing for a
heavyweight champion to regain his title. During this
time figures like Dempsey, Baer, Schemeling, Walcott
and Charles all failed. He may go on to conquer Mike
Tyson but the overwhelming consensus among the boxings
scribes and soothsayers appears to indicate that this
would merely be a "salvaging" exercise.
One, that is, which will have no effect on his goal
of being ranked with the likes of Joe Louis and Muhammad
Ali. A three-time world champion he may be but with
two seemingly needless losses on his record and the
fact that his talent sojourns within the alphabet
soup era and a time of meddling boxing politics, Lennox
Lewis had all the odds stacked against him.
History it appears may judge him harshly
Ade Makinde may be reached at email@example.com
Tiger Web Site
Lennox Lewis Smashed "The
Rock" In Lightening In Vegas
By Chris Curry
18.11 - Hasim Rahman produced "Thunder
in Africa" to knockout Lennox Lewis and in the
words of Muhammad Ali "Shook up the World"
when he was crowned Heavyweight Champion in April
this year. The heavily anticipated rematch billed
as "Repeat or Revenge" had all the fireworks
when Lennox Lewis brought more than thunder and exploded
"Lightening in Vegas" and smashed the "The
Rock" into pieces to emerge once again as the
Heavyweight Champion of the World.
A very focused and devastating true
Champion was in the ring at the Mandalay Bay in Las
Vegas on Saturday night, he showed Hasim Rahman that
he really was lucky having the honour of being called
one and the crowd is electrified as the bell rings.
The Champion and former Champion meet in the centre
of the ring, Taking a look at one another, they get
into a rhythm. "The Rock" throws first with
a double jab, missing the head and slapping into the
body. Lennox is fast and light on his toes, circles
to the left side of Rahman, keeping out of range from
the famous right hand. Lewis takes a look while moving,
Rahman keeps pumping the Jab. Lewis blasts his own
dominating Jab and right to the body. Rahman again
sharp with his jabs, hones into the former Champion,
doubling it up with success. The sleeker looking Lennox
Lewis, moves well, fires single jabs, while working
the ring with great foot work he throws powerful and
accurate lefts in two's and three's and catapults
his own lethal right hand. The punch finished so many
fighters and Hasim tasted it for the first time in
the contest. Throughout the opening round, Lewis is
snappy with his shots, landing the more superior punches,
he starts a cut on Rahman's left eye, Hasim fires
back, landing at times and often getting picked off
on the way in. The round ends as a "Battle of
the Jabs" with Rahman's crown starting to slip
Round two and Lennox is straight out
executing at "The Rock". Rahman measures
out his left hand, but fails to back it up with a
right. Lennox's is dissecting away with hard shots,
while circling fast on his toes. Lewis goes for a
right, they get into a clinch, with Hasim landing
meaningless hooks. They break and Lennox has success
with a left hook and short right to the body, again
in a clinch, this time both fighters punch the back
of their heads and receive a warning from the referee,
Joe Cortez. Lennox slips out more stinging lefts,
rolls on his hips, Rahman's throws a short combination
and bob and weaves some of Lennox's shots. Lewis lands
a series of hard shots and opens up with a cracking
left, right, left combination. The former Champ uses
the ring extremely well and is bouncing on his toes.
The last 30 seconds and the Champion presses forward
and gets picked off easily. This is a smart start
by Lennox Lewis and Rahman is looking frustrated.
Both rounds to Lennox, he's warmed
up and his reflex's are fully awakened. Round three
of the Heavyweight Championship of the World and Lewis
wants those titles back. He explodes a left onto Rahman's
chin, sending his head launching back. Rahman needs
a bit more head movement , but gets some success landing
a hard left hook that seemed to affect on the legs
of Lewis. Both fighters trade jabs, Lennox opens up
with a left and his "Honey Punch" right
and propels back a left. He really is showing his
skills as the superior technician and fighter. Rahmam
keeps coming forward, really with little success and
Lewis keeps circling away from "The Rocks"
right. "The English Lion" blasts out a left
hook and right hand combination, he continued his
master plan with graceful lateral movement and launches
a beautiful attack, again landing lightening fast,
thunderous left and right shots, reeling the "Lucky"
Champion back, who looks disorganised. A super sharp
Lewis has never looked as razor sharp and finished
the round very elusive, moving brilliantly. "The
Rock" is starting to crumble.
authoritive Lewis moves back as the Champion attacks.
He moves around and shoots a left, right into the
Champions head, moving him back. "The Rock"
moves down low, and the giant former Champion goes
for a left hook. Missing, he then leans down on Rahman
enforcing his strength, showing him "I am the
stronger fighter and no more disrespect". Hasim
Rahman is finding it very hard to be effective and
is flung back like wet laundry after eating another
left right combination as Lewis is hunting him down.
It was a terrific shot, very focused. Rahman is in
big trouble and has very little to come back with,
he's firing shots with no purpose, his dreams turn
into nightmare's. Lennox keeps pounding his jab and
Rahman holds on and slaps the body and head, bringing
the referee in for the break. The Champion lands a
few lefts, but the effect was take out as Lewis was
advancing back. After taking centre ring again, going
shot for shot, the thunder was beginning to rumble.
This was it, "Revenge" Lennox sweeps around,
plants his feet, executes a left hooks and then uncorks
a lightening bolt right, sending Hasim "The Rock"
Rahman crashing to defeat, in the sweetest form of
revenge. It was a fantastic shot Hasim Rahman was
completely laid out. He tried to beat the count but
was helpless as he rose half way up and went sailing
into the corner.
Lennox Lewis triumphed, beating his
chest, jumping, savouring his moment of victory, he
simply could have not been more sensational. The ring
and crowd was in mayhem as Lennox Lewis once again
was crowned "The Heavyweight Champion of the
World" joining Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield
as a three time Champion.
The Champion said "I turned Hasim
Rahman into "Has-Been" Rahman. When we were
in Africa I said he had the belts on loan. His fifteen
minutes of glory are over now. I want Tyson, I've
been waiting for him since Holyfield".
The defeated and now former Champion,
Hasim Rahman said "It was a hard right hand I
did not see the punch coming, It was a good shot and
I wasn't able to recover, I've got a few more surprises
left in me yet, though".
This was the performance Lennox Lewis
needed after his devastating loss to Rahman in April.
He was very much in danger of history leaving his
name tarnished, but now his place is secure. He needs
to fight with fear in him and he used it in a very
positive way. His balance, movement and jab keep Rahman
at bay, the end result was a spectacular performance
and finish. The difference was he had respect for
him after South Africa. Boxing is about more than
winning, it is about how you win. Lewis showed grit
and determination and he completely confused Hasim
Rahman, then blew him away with one terrific combination.
This is one of his best ever wins. British Boxing
can be very proud of their "World Heavyweight
Champion". This time Lennox did not get caught
in a storm of thunder but smashed "The Rock"
with Lightening when he stuck down Hasim Rahman, in
"Lightening in Vegas".
By Chris Curry, Belfast, Northern
Ireland / Photos: AP