Lennox Lewis Vindicated With 4th Round KO Over Hasim Rahman

By Alex Pierpaoli

18.11.01 - 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 frequently.

In 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.

In 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.

With 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


By Adeyinka Makinde

18.11 - 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 and foul?

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 time.

'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 career?

Variously 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.

The 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.

Lennox 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 for this.

Ade Makinde may be reached at / Dick 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 Heavyweight Champion.

Round 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 away.

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.

The 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


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