Lennox Lewis scored a number of notable and highly impressive KO’s during his career (32 KO’s from his 41 wins, and this from a man the critics once said couldn’t punch). Exactly 20 years ago today, when in his prime, perhaps enjoying his best year here in 2000, Lewis scored a highlight reel KO over a tough old dude named Frans Botha. Well, Botha wasn’t that old – the South African being 31 years of age at the time of the fight. But, boy, Lewis sure made Botha feel old, and tired, after just two rounds.
Lewis, aged 34, was coming off a crushing two-round KO of “next big thing” Michael Grant. The heavyweight ruler would need as much time to send Botha packing. Botha had been with Mike Tyson, outboxing Tyson before being caught with a bomb in the fifth round, and he had also been stopped by Michael Moorer. Botha had a draw with former Lewis foe Shannon Briggs on his record and some experts felt Botha would give Lewis a tough time of things.
But Lewis, trained by Emanuel Steward for the past five years, was on fire, at his peak, looking to destroy all in his path. Lewis hurt Botha with a big right hand to the head at the end of the opening round and then, in the second session, he cracked his challenger with a beautiful four-punch combination to the head. The series of powerful, perfectly placed shots sent Botha clean through the ropes.
Botha tried to get back into the ring and fight on but he was done. Lewis raised his arms in triumph, having barely broken a sweat. For sure, Lennox Lewis at his absolute best was something else. Later that year, Lewis the master boxer put on a nearly flawless performance in defusing and dominating the lethal David Tua. Fans felt that fight might have been a slugfest, yet Lewis showed how he could switch up his style to suit each opponent.
This made it all the more shocking when Lewis, having overlooked the fight, was starched by huge underdog Hasim Rahman in his very next fight after defeating Tua. For now, though, until venturing to South Africa, Lewis was apparently unbeatable.