By James Slater: Halloween night, 1992, Earls Court, London. Unbeaten 1988 Olympic gold medallist Lennox Lewis was having his first real test against a world class fighter. If the British/Canadian could defeat the man who had given Mike Tyson such a hard fight twice, as well as destroying capable men such as former champ Michael Dokes, then Lewis would undeniably be not only a world rated heavyweight but one perhaps good enough to rise to the very top. And all of the boxing world tuned in to see if the division had a new star. As it turned out, a future superstar and all-time great arrived on this night!.
A sell-out crowd crammed into Earls Court in the hope that the adopted hometown man would win. However, no-one was under the impression that it was going to be easy. Lewis may have been an Olympic medal winner and an undefeated prospect with good wins over the likes of Tyrell Biggs, former champ Mike Weaver the late Gary Mason, but he had never faced a fighter with the reputation and proven punching power of Razor. This was the acid test for Lennox.
Shockingly, surprisingly and almost unbelievably, Lewis did win. Easily. When the two fighters came face to face in ring centre, Ruddock was clearly and noticeably the more anxious boxer. He could not keep still and he was burning huge amounts of nervous energy. Lewis on the other hand looked ice cool. Was Ruddock intimidated? Although at the time such a notion would have seemed unlikely, it did seem in hindsight that this indeed was the case. The two had met before, as amateurs in Canada and now, as a result, Lennox exuded real confidence. Then came the first bell.
Razor came out stalking and Lewis boxed and moved. Both were in great physical condition and beforehand most experts believed the best chance Lennox had for victory would be by using his skills and taking the fight into the later rounds where he might have been able to score a KO, or more likely, win on points. Everyone thinking along those lines was in for a shock. And Quick! Ruddock, near the end of the round, attempted to jab at Lewis’ midsection and in the process left himself open. Lennox saw the opening and let go with a smashing right hand punch that travelled downwards and caught Razor flush on the side of the head. His legs immediately turned to jelly and he collapsed to the floor. The crowd was stunned at first, then let out screams of excitement. Where had Lewis got that power from? Not one expert considered him a huge puncher at the time. Now we all knew different. Then came the bell, temporarily saving Razor.
Floyd Patterson, Ruddock’s still relatively new trainer told his man to relax during the minute’s rest. He was all too aware of his fighter’s anxiety and did his best to calm him sufficiently for round two. Razor had been very badly hurt by Lewis’ sharp and powerful punch. Still, Lennox would have to be careful, Ruddock had gotten off the floor to win before. Razor went on the attack again in a desperate effort to land something big on Lewis. But he was soon in trouble again himself. Lewis cracked home with more fast and damaging punches and Razor was downed for a second time. Surely, Lennox would win his finest performance to date now?
Ruddock bounced back up quickly, too quickly as it turned out. This speedy rise from the canvas was one indicative of a man who didn’t know where he was. Lewis went in for the kill as a final, desperation uppercut from Ruddock failed to slow him down. A superb combination from Lennox ended matters and Ruddock crashed to the mat for the third and final time. He had been utterly destroyed! No-one had ever done this to him, not even Tyson. Lewis raised his arms in triumph, never once losing his incredible composure. The crowd on the other hand was going completely nuts! Had England at last found a serious threat to America’s world domination at heavyweight?
Yes, it had.
How the division could do with such a smashing breakthrough performance from an emerging heavyweight today. Happy Halloween!