Sport: And STILL... the last undisputed world heavyweight champion: 20 years ago today, Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield, cries of a 'fix' and a last-round slugfest to claim boxing's holy grail - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Sport And STILL... the last undisputed world heavyweight champion: 20 years ago today, Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield, cries of a 'fix' and a last-round slugfest to claim boxing's holy grail

10:31  13 november  2019
10:31  13 november  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield , cries of a ' fix ' and a last - round slugfest to claim boxing ' s holy grail . The British fighter became the undisputed heavyweight world champion. No-one has since unified boxing ' s most prized championship belts.

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(Photo credit should read Danil Shamkin / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) © Getty (Photo credit should read Danil Shamkin / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

It was 20 years ago today 

Mister Lewis had it all his way.

He knew we would enjoy the show,

Little did the US know. 

The Lion mauled The Real Deal 

He was taking all those big belts home, we love to take them home. 

(With apologies to The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper)

Lennox Lewis with a city in the background: Lennox Lewis poses with the WBA, IBO, WBC and IBF world heavyweight championship belts in New York in November 1999 after becoming the undisputed champion © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Lennox Lewis poses with the WBA, IBO, WBC and IBF world heavyweight championship belts in New York in November 1999 after becoming the undisputed champion

On November 13, 1999 Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

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And STILL the last undisputed world heavyweight champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield The A Coruna native did rack up 47 appearances in all competitions last season, including 31 domestically, scoring five times and assisting on four occasions.

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These full two decades later that is a distinction which Lewis is still the last to call his own.

On that cool desert evening Lewis and Holyfield met in the rematch of a night in New York's Madison Square Garden, seven months earlier to the day, which had become over-heated by controversy.

Holyfield lands a blow on Lewis in their first bout, at Madison Square Garden in March 1999 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Holyfield lands a blow on Lewis in their first bout, at Madison Square Garden in March 1999

On March 13 that same year the judges declared a draw and most of the boxing world cried foul, largely as convinced as Lewis himself that he had made a meal of The Real Deal only to be robbed of his just deserts.

The bulk of the vitriol was poured over a lady. Eugenia Williams was the one official who scored in favour of Holyfield. She was quick to admit she made a hash of giving Lewis's best round, the fifth, to Holyfield and should therefore have called it a draw. Although that would not have altered the result because British judge Larry O'Connell had them level.

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And STILL the last undisputed world heavyweight champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield 23- year -old Italy international is valued at between £43m and £52m. Spurs could make a bid as early as January but Pellegrini is keen to stay in Rome.

And STILL the last undisputed world heavyweight champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield , cries of a ' fix ' and a Faustino Asprilla claims he had to convince a hitman not to kill Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert after World Cup qualifier in 1997.

The outrage became so inflamed that the US Congress set up a committee to investigate. Little came of it despite mutterings of corruption and a fix.

a man sitting in front of a crowd: The pair embrace after the fight was called a draw, which Lewis accepted magnanimously © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The pair embrace after the fight was called a draw, which Lewis accepted magnanimously

The only certainty was that the two protagonists were going to split 30 million more dollars for doing it again.

And so we came to Sin City.

There seemed to be as many Hollywood celebrities gathered in the Thomas and Mack Center as stars in the velvet Nevada sky above.

As we stood at adjacent basins in the men's room, Jack Nicholson noticed the media credential around my neck and asked: 'You like your guy tonight?' 

Emanuel Steward holding a newspaper: His trainer, Emanuel Steward, reads the New York Post after the fight, which proclaimed a 'robbery' - most observers had Lewis as the clear winner, despite the judges scorecards © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited His trainer, Emanuel Steward, reads the New York Post after the fight, which proclaimed a 'robbery' - most observers had Lewis as the clear winner, despite the judges scorecards

'I do,' I replied. 'Size matters and Lennox won't make the same mistake again of taking rounds off.' 

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'Yeah, maybe. But my 10 bucks says Evander.' 

'Done.' 

We did not bump into each in the after-frenzy and although Nicholson is a ringside regular at big fights our paths have not crossed that closely since, so I still haven't collected.

Not a problem. We were both treated to a fight far livelier than the first.

a man wearing glasses posing for the camera: Hollywood stars Michael Douglas (left) and Jack Nicholson were gripped by the fight © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Hollywood stars Michael Douglas (left) and Jack Nicholson were gripped by the fight

There is an old saying in America that 'second time around is a rhubarb.' To which this re-run was a fruity exception.

Holyfield, who had been surprisingly passive early in the Garden, was aggressively pro-active now. Lewis came out more often from behind that long, ramrod left jab to exchange jolting combinations.

They split the opening few rounds and thereafter the ebb and flow became more dynamic, more thrilling and more arousing for the sell-out crowd of 19,000.

'Holy, Holy, Holy,' roared the Americans as their man dominated the middle of the fight. 'Only one Lennox Lewis,' chanted the travelling Brits as he stormed back.

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And STILL the last undisputed world heavyweight champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield , cries of a The 19- year -old is likely to replace Sterling in Southgate' s side for the game against Montenegro but hailed his team-mate as an 'idol' for young

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The 12th and last was a slugfest which had them all on their feet.

a man in a boxing ring: The rematch took place eight months later in Las Vegas, with Lewis winning on points © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The rematch took place eight months later in Las Vegas, with Lewis winning on points

The unanimous verdict came down in favour of Lewis and it was Holyfield's turn to raise the rueful eyebrow.

'Of course I think I won,' he said with a shrug. 'But after the uproar in New York I was never going to get this decision. I knew that even though we are in America I had to knock Lennox out to win. And I didn't do it.' 

Fiercely spirited though the battle had been, neither had really threatened to put the other down.

Two of the official scores - 117-111 and 116-112 as opposed to a reasonable third card of 115-113 - spoke to Holyfield's suspicion that politics were at work. Or 'politricks' as Lewis had stated his objection to the Manhattan draw.

Seen objectively, they were both close fights. The honest way of scoring is to mark each round at its end and refrain from keeping a tally until the fight is over, to prevent the running total affecting judgement.

Emanuel Steward et al. around each other: Holyfield and Lewis teeter on the ropes during a dramatic moment in the fight © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Holyfield and Lewis teeter on the ropes during a dramatic moment in the fight

O'Connell had not been alone in scoring the first fight a draw. Among others to do so were myself, Colin Hart of the Sun and the boxing correspondent of the New York Times.

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And STILL the last undisputed world heavyweight champion : 20 years ago today , Lennox Lewis finally overcame Evander Holyfield , cries of a ' fix ' and a last - round slugfest 'Attendances over the last five years have gone from 2013/14 when the figures were 3.8 million to 4.5million now.

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The three of us were surprised when we did the sums because we all had an overall impression that Lewis had won. That contradiction was rooted in the 10-point-must scoring system.

Lennox landed a lot more punches in the fight but they were concentrated in rounds he won heavily, while Holyfield edged others in which Lewis took breathers. Still, without knock-downs, they were marked 10-9 either way.

Lewis, of course, felt hard done by. The next time we met he was wearing dark glasses. He took them off, placed them on my nose and said: 'You'd better wear these.' He did so with a smile. No anger, no bad language.

a man in a boxing ring: Lewis lands a jab on his American opponent, who was roared on by his home crowd © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Lewis lands a jab on his American opponent, who was roared on by his home crowd

Ever the gentleman.

The day after the second fight, Lennie the Lion held court in his penthouse suite overlooking the Vegas Strip. He asked how we had it. Both Hart and I had scored it narrowly for Holyfield. I added: 'But we couldn't be happier for you. Richly deserved.' This time he grinned over his glasses and said: 'I know.'

He showed us the WBC, WBA, and IBF belts which he had unified. He also had the IBO belt but that was no more regarded as a major title than the WBO belt 20 years ago, which was worn at the time by Herbie Hide.

'Undisputed?' he queried with one quizzical eye cocked. 'Undisputed,' we agreed.

It is almost impossible to keep that distinction for long, given the mandatory defences demanded by the different alpha-belt bodies. Just six months later Lewis vacated the WBA title rather than fight their rather improbable No 1 contender, John Ruiz.

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undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at 20 years , 4 months, and 22 days old. twice in 1991, but he pulled out of a fight with undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield due to injury.

13th March 1999, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis finally clashed for the Undisputed Holyfield confidently predicted a third round knockout but to the surprise of many, Lewis dominated the Lewis became the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion , winning by unanimous decision with

a person in a costume: The second fight was much closer than the first, with Holyfield claiming he had won © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The second fight was much closer than the first, with Holyfield claiming he had won

But still he is the last 'undisputed'. That is unlikely to change any time soon. The winner of the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jnr seems certain to vacate either the IBF or the now-recognised WBO titles in favour of a super-fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

What doesn't alter, either, is the status of Lewis as Britain's greatest heavyweight.

That's not just my opinion. David Haye, who later joined Holyfield as one of only three cruiserweights ever to go up and win the heavyweight crown, says: 'I never feel right comparing fighters of different eras. But I can tell you this without doubt, I wouldn't have felt at all comfortable fighting Lennox. I would have fancied my chances against pretty much all the other heavies of my time. Not him.

'I sparred with Lennox a lot and he was so big and strong. Even now when we meet I find myself looking up at him in awe and feeling all that power when we shake hands. He's easily the best we've had in this country.' 

Lennox Lewis standing in front of a crowd: Lewis gets a kiss from his mother Violet after his unanimous decision victory was confirmed © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Lewis gets a kiss from his mother Violet after his unanimous decision victory was confirmed

To put that into today's context, Haye adds: 'I think I'd have beaten Tyson Fury when we were supposed to fight back in the day, when he was younger and still learning.' 

Then, in reference to Joshua's sensational upset by Ruiz Jnr, he says: 'I know I would never have been knocked out by that chubby little guy.' 

Warming to his admiration of Lewis, he says: 'If Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman were the golden age, then Lennox is our only one who could have stood some kind of comparison with them.

Lennox Lewis et al. standing in front of a crowd: Lewis raises his arms and the Union Jack in triumph © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Lewis raises his arms and the Union Jack in triumph

'For sure as far as British heavyweights are concerned, he's the man.'

Indeed he is, win or draw against the great Holyfield, against whom the promised trilogy fight never materialised even though they both went on to win world titles again.

a person posing for the camera: He sealed his place in history as an undisputed champion © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited He sealed his place in history as an undisputed champion

And never forget that he retired as a reigning champion, after defeating Vitali Klitschko in a bloodbath.

Lennox Lewis, still the last undisputed. Always the gentleman. Thanks for the memories.

Related: Boxing's greatest ever upsets [Read Sport]

Boxing's greatest ever upsets


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