20 Years Ago Today, The Shocking Lamon Brewster-Wladimir Klitschko Fight

By James Slater - 04/10/2024 - Comments

A most shocking and strange heavyweight title fight took place 20 years ago today, between Wladimir Klitschko, a former WBO heavyweight champion, and Lamon Brewster. The fight took place in Las Vegas, and going in, nobody could have possibly predicted what would happen.

Klitschko was 42-2(38) and he had recently hired Emanuel Steward as his new trainer. Having been stunned by Corrie Sanders in March the previous year, “Dr. Steelhammer” was left feeling a camp shake-up was needed, with the great Kronk trainer being the man to do the shaking up. Brewster sadly lost his long-time trainer Bill Slayton, who passed away at the age of 81 just prior to the fight. “Relentless” was motivated to pay his friend and trainer tribute by way of an upset win. Brewster was 29-2(26) and he had won his last five fights, all by stoppage.

Klitschko, yet to fully impress the world’s fans, had made five retentions of the WBO belt before being smashed by Sanders, and now he was looking to get it back. Brewster was hungry for his first world title.

The fight began as a one-sided affair in favour of Klitschko, who was the younger man by a couple of years. Soon it was almost pitifully one-sided, with Brewster taking a real going over, his chin tested severely. Downed in round four and looking like he was close to being stopped, Brewster soaked it all up, his sheer fighting heart and desire simply incredible.

Then in the fifth round, a suddenly exhausted Klitschko was the man looking to be in a pitiful condition. Backed up and using the ropes for support, Klitschko was defenceless, and he was given a standing eight count. Then, Klitschko was tagged by two left hooks to the head, and he was downed and hurt. But mostly, the stricken fighter looked to be physically shattered. Klitschko struggled to his knees, where he then stumbled into a corner, utterly spent and bewildered. Referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight, later coming out with the memorable line, “he couldn’t take care of himself.” The time was 3.00 of the fifth round.

Klitschko was rushed to the hospital, where it was discovered his blood sugar level was almost twice as high as is normal. Later, in his hotel room, Klitschko felt sick and incredibly weak. Later still, Klitschko claimed he had been drugged, that and he had had too much Vaseline on his body, with him believing this had a strange effect on him. No evidence of any wrongdoing has ever been produced.

Klitschko, his tank suddenly and shocking empty, had simply punched himself out, or so it appeared. But Wladimir was so crushed by the loss he almost quit the sport. Instead, showing real determination, Klitschko came back and he went on to become an all-time great heavyweight. Wladimir got revenge over Brewster, who had undergone eye surgery and in hindsight took the rematch too soon after, this in 2007.

But that fight of 20 years ago remains a disturbing one to watch all these years later. Have you ever seen a fighter, so on-top and in total command, suddenly fall apart so quickly? This fight will always be filed under the odd and curious section. While the conspiracy theories still abound.

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