Remembering A Classic KO – When Tim Witherspoon’s “Can Opener” Tore Through Anders Eklund

Though Tim Witherspoon is a two-time heavyweight champ (‘Spoon briefly holding the WBA and WBC versions), plenty of fight fans feel the Philadelphian should have achieved more than he did. An in-shape and focused Witherspoon had all the tools – he was powerful, his right hand a potent weapon, he had a fine left jab, Witherspoon had a great chin, stamina and he could fight on the outside and on the inside.

Laziness was often Tim’s problem, that and him being seriously under-motivated going into a fight. At his very best, Witherspoon could give Larry Holmes sheer hell, coming within a whisker of beating him, he could see off good fighters like Renaldo Snipes, “Jumbo” Cummings, Greg Page, Bonecrusher Smith, Tony Tubbs (in an admittedly duller than dull fight) and Frank Bruno. At his worst, Tim could be beaten by Everett “Bigfoot” Martin, Jimmy Thunder, and (in a shocking rematch) Smith.

Certainly, Witherspoon blew hot and cold. One night that saw him look red-hot took place as he was on the comeback trail following his stunner of a one-round loss to Bonecrusher. Witherspoon, now being promoted by Dennis Rappaport, took on the giant Anders Eklund in October of 1989. Now, the 6’7″ Swede was no killer, no top contender, but Eklund, 18-4-1(10) at the time of the fight, had beaten so-so names like Steffen Tangstad, Jesse Ferguson and Alfredo Evangelista. Eklund also held a decent win over future IBF cruiserweight champ Glenn McCrory.

Against Witherspoon, in the biggest fight of his career, the Ivan Drago lookalike was taken out in memorable highlight reel fashion. Witherspoon, in shape and determined having put together four wins since the Bonecrusher fiasco, gave his fans one of his most sensational KO’s. Again, “Terrible Tim” wasn’t in with anything approaching a great fighter, but the one-punch KO he scored over Eklund remains a thing of savage beauty all these years later.

Just over a minute into the opening round, Witherspoon cracked Eklund with his “can opener” of a right hand. The overhand right sent Eklund down in devastating fashion. Prone on the canvas, looking every inch like a hit and run victim who was trying to look for the car – or the truck – that had run him over, Eklund’s face was a contorted, twisted horror show.

Witherspoon knew his victim wasn’t getting up, and he began his celebrations, Tim soaking in the kind of cheers a fight crowd only gives out when they have been treated to a special knockout. Rappaport stated on the Tuesday Night Fights broadcast how he had at his disposal many $millions of dollars, the promoter calling out George Foreman, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield on behalf of his fighter. Unfortunately, these fights failed to come off. Maybe Witherspoon had looked far too dangerous for either of the trios to fancy a rumble with him.

Witherspoon scored quite a number of big KO’s during his career – 38 KO’s in total – but the chilling icing of Eklund might just have been his most fun. Eklund fought just once more, picking up a win over Garing Lane the following May. Sadly, Anders passed away at the young age of 52, this in April of 2010.

Witherspoon KO1 Eklund remains a YouTube favorite today.

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