When reigning WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis signed to defend against Andrew Golota, plenty of fight fans expected a good fight, a hard fight, maybe even a great fight. Lewis, still not having convinced the world’s fight fans that he was the best big man on the planet (just over three years before the Golota fight, Lewis had been stopped inside two rounds by Oliver McCall), was facing in Golota a rough and tough warrior who had shown in his two wild and crazy fights with Riddick Bowe how dangerous (and unhinged) he could be.
The crazy stuff aside, Golota also showed in the two Bowe fights that he had a good chin, good power, size, and physical strength. And how would Lewis deal with Golota’s dirty stuff if “The Foul Pole” decided to go there in this fight?
Since being derailed and dethroned by McCall, Lewis had hooked up with Emanuel Steward, he had reeled off six wins (including a revenge win over an unstable McCall), and he had regained the WBC title.
Since his two wilder than wild (not to mention brutal) fights with Bowe, Golota had had it drummed into him how he could not afford to bend and break the rules in any fight that he had the talent to reach the top if he could keep from coming unglued. A fight with Ray Mercer (which would have been extremely interesting to see) fell through, and Golota was afforded a shot at Lewis.
Lewis Vs. Golota met at Atlantic City On October 4, 1997, and nobody was certain what to expect when the bell rang. Lewis was 31-1, Golota was 28-2.
Lewis shocked Golota, and plenty of fans, by coming out like a train. Soon backing his man up with his left jab, Lewis then belted Golota with a strong right hook to the head, this slamming Golota into a corner. Lewis, sensing a chance to end matters quickly, unloaded with a wicked six-punch combo. Golota was sent crashing to the mat, the look of sheer surprise and bewilderment on his face proving somewhat comical to some.
Golota got back up, but he was met with another devastating attack upon doing so. This time, not giving his rival any chance of recovering, Lewis smashed Golota with ten unanswered shots. Golota was down for a second time, and the fight was over.
Joe Cortez had seen enough. It didn’t last two minutes. Lewis had utterly destroyed a man a good number of fans and experts thought would have given him a hard night. Golota was not given a chance to come up with any dirty stuff.
After the pulverizing defeat, things got worse for Golota. Reportedly administered an injection of lidocaine to ease Golota’s severe pain in his knee, the fighter then suffered a seizure in his dressing room. Golota actually stopped breathing and was taken to the hospital.
Later, Golota’s lawyers sued the doctor who had given him the shot (lidocaine being a banned substance for athletes, Golota fined $5,000 for having taken it) – for a whopping $21 million. Reportedly, Golota settled out of court and was awarded $1 million.
But would Golota’s career recover from the one-round hammering? Golota did feature in further big fights, but his reputation as an unstable fighter was now secure. At any given time, Golota could suffer a panic attack; he could do something crazy in the ring (biting, or butting, for example), or he could quit (see his fights with Michael Grant and Mike Tyson).
Golota did box a draw with Chris Byrd in an IBF title shot, and Golota also took John Ruiz the distance in a failed attempt at winning the WBA crown. In 2005, in his last massive fight, Golota was blown away in an even quicker fashion than Lewis had managed, this by Lamon Brewster, who wiped him out in just 52 seconds.
Golota looked like a fine heavyweight with a great future in that first fight with Bowe, before his illegal tactics reared their ugly head. Ultimately, though, whenever he faced an elite fighter, Golota lost. Perhaps never so spectacularly as when he fought Lennox Lewis.