Tonight at 9:00 p.m. on MSG Network’s “Friday Night Fights,” hosted by John Duddy and Mark Breland: Lennox Lewis vs. Ray Mercer (5/10/96).
After his 1993 defeat at the hands of Jesse Ferguson, Ray Mercer returned to the Garden to battle Lennox Lewis for a classic heavyweight fight. Lewis and Mercer both entered the bout as former Olympic champions in 1988, Mercer as heavyweight and Lewis as super heavyweight. Lewis arrived as the clear-cut favorite, but Mercer surprised both his opponent and the audience when he put on one of the best performances of his career. The men went back and forth throughout the match, but at the end Mercer, as well as the crowd, left disappointed as Lewis was named the champion after a 10-round unanimous decision.
Duddy: “Lennox Lewis and Ray Mercer fight a real tough battle. They gave Lennox the majority decision. A lot of people that night thought that Ray had enough to win it. What did you think Mark?”
Breland: “I thought Ray won the fight because he was very good on the inside and he out jabbed Lennox. I thought it was a good fight.”
Duddy: “Later on in the fight, we see little flashes of Lennox getting behind the jab and catching him at the end of his punches.”
Breland: “He did exactly that, but I thought Ray did just enough to get in on the inside and to win the fight. I mean to out box and out jab a big man like that is rough.”
Duddy: “He went on many years later to take on Mike Tyson and actually made pretty easy work on it.”
Breland: “Ray Mercer is a tough guy, Mike is a tough guy, but fighting guys like that gets you in great shape and gets you ready for guys like Mike.”
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