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And yet … the last indisputable world heavyweight champion: Lennox Lewis, 20 years on



20 years ago it was today

Mr. Lewis had it all to himself.

He knew we were going to enjoy the show,

He knew little of the United States.

The Lion annulled the real deal

He brought all the big belts home, we want to take them home.

(With an apology to the Beatles and P. Pepper)

Lennox Lewis presented to the WBA, IBO, WBC and IBF World Heavyweight Champion in New York in November 1999 after becoming the undisputed champion

Lennox Lewis presented to the WBA, IBO, WBC and IBF World Heavyweight Champion in New York in November 1999 after becoming the undisputed champion

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

These whole two decades later, it is the difference that Louis is still the last to call his own.

On that cold desert night, Lewis and Hollyfield met at a rematch on New York's Madison Square Garden, seven months earlier in the day, that had become overwhelmed by controversy.

On March 13, the same year, the judges raffled off and most world boxers shouted foul, largely as convinced as Louis himself that he made a meal out of The Real Deal just to be robbed of his empty deserts.

Most of the vitriol is spilled over a lady. Eugenia Williams was the official who scored a goal in favor of Holliday. She was quick to admit that she had made an effort to give Louis the fifth-best round to Hallfield and should therefore call it a draw. Although that would not change the result because British judge Larry O'Connell had them level.

The anger became so inflamed that the US Congress formed an inquiry committee. Little has come of it despite the crippling corruption and the solution.

Lewis becomes undisputed champion after two Titanic battles against Evander Holfield

Lewis becomes undisputed champion after two Titanic battles against Evander Holfield

Holliday hit Lewis in their first game at Madison Square Garden in March 1999

Holliday hit Lewis in their first game at Madison Square Garden in March 1999

The couple hug after the brawl was called the draw, which Louis accepted magnificently

The couple hug after the brawl was called the draw, which Louis accepted magnificently

His coach, Emmanuel Steward, reads The New York Post after the brawl, declaring it a "robbery" - most observers had Lewis as the clear winner, despite the judges' results

His coach, Emmanuel Steward, reads The New York Post after the brawl, declaring it a "robbery" – most observers had Lewis as the clear winner, despite the judges' results

The only certainty was that the two protagonists had to split another $ 30 million to do so again.

And so we came to Blue City.

There seemed to be as many Hollywood celebrities gathered in downtown Thomas and Mac as stars in the velvety sky above.

As we stood in the adjoining pools in the men's room, Jack Nicholson noticed the media credentials around my neck and asked me: & # 39; Do you like your man tonight? & # 39;

"I," I answered. "Size is important and Lenox will not make the same mistake again when taking off."

“Yes, maybe. But my $ 10 says Evander. "

& # 39; Done. & # 39;

We did not clash with each other in the aftermath and although Nicholson is a regular attempt at big fights, our paths did not cross them so close, so I still haven't gathered.

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

Hollywood stars Michael Douglas (left) and Jack Nicholson were hit by the brawl

Hollywood stars Michael Douglas (left) and Jack Nicholson were hit by the brawl

There is an old saying in America that "the second time around is quarreling". Re-running was a fruitful exception.

Hollyfield, who was initially passive in the garden, was now aggressively proactive. Lewis was coming out more often than not for that long, Ramrod left his pocket to exchange jaggery combinations.

They split a few rounds at the opening and then graduation and flow became more dynamic, exciting and exciting for the sold-out crowd of 19,000.

"Holy, holy, holy," raged the Americans as their man dominated the middle of the fight. "Just one Lennox Lewis," the traveling Brits shouted as they returned.

The twelfth and last was a weak one who had them all on his feet.

A unanimous verdict was dropped in Lewis' favor, and it was Holliday's turn to raise his eyebrow.

"Of course I think I won," he said with small hands. "But after the unrest in New York, I would never make that decision. I knew that while we were in America, I had to knock Lennox out to win. And I didn't.

The ghosts though had a battle, and did not threaten to overthrow the other.

The rematch happened eight months later in Las Vegas, and Lewis won on points

The rematch happened eight months later in Las Vegas, and Lewis won on points

During a dramatic moment in the fight, Sheffield and Lewis climb the ropes

During a dramatic moment in the fight, Sheffield and Lewis climb the ropes

Lewis donated a pocket to his American opponent, who caressed the home audience

Lewis donated a pocket to his American opponent, who caressed the home audience

Two of the official results – 117-111 and 116-112 against a reasonable third card of 115-113 – spoke of Sheffield's suspicion that politics was at work. Or "politically", as Lewis put it, in his lottery complaint in Manhattan.

Objectively speaking, both were close fights. The honest way to do this is to mark each round at the end and refrain from keeping the table until the fight is over, to prevent a total impact on the verdict.

O'Connell was not alone in reaching the first fight draw. Among the others to do so was Colin Hart of the Sun and the York Times' boxing correspondent.

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

Lenox landed many more blows in the fight, but they were concentrated in the rounds, which he largely won, while Sheffield pulled the others in which Lewis was breathing. However, with no drop-outs, they were marked 10-9 by any means.

Of course, Luis felt difficult. The next time we met he wore dark glasses. He took them off, put them on his nose and said, "You better carry these." He did so with a smile. Without anger, there is no bad language.

Sometimes gentleman.

The day after the second fight, Lenny Love was held in court at his penthouse apartment overlooking the Vegas Strip. He asked how we had it. Both Hart and I achieved it closely for Hollyfield. I added: "But we couldn't be happier for you. Richly deserved. & # 39; This time he smiled through his glasses and said: & # 39; I know & # 39 ;.

He showed us the WBC, WBA and IBF belts that united them. He also had the IBO belt, but it was no longer considered the WBO belt title 20 years ago, which was worn by Herbie Fide at the time.

"Undisputed?" he asked with a quizzical eye. "Undisputed," we agreed.

It is almost impossible to maintain that distinction for long, given the mandatory defense required by different alpha-belt bodies. Just six months later, Lewis relinquished the WBA title instead of fighting with their rather unthinkable No. 1 contender, Ron Ruiz.

Yet he is the last "undisputed". It is unlikely to change any time soon. The winner of the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Chan seems likely to either deface the IBF or the now-recognized WBO titles in favor of WBC super-fighter Deontai Wilder.

What does not change, either, is Lewis' status as the UK's biggest heavyweight.

The second fight was much closer to the first, with Sheffield claiming to have won

The second fight was much closer to the first, with Sheffield claiming to have won

Lewis receives a kiss from his mother Violet after his unanimous decision has been confirmed

Lewis receives a kiss from his mother Violet after his unanimous decision has been confirmed

That's just not my opinion. David Jay, who later joined Sheffield as one of the only three fighters in the news to climb and win the heavyweight crown, says: "I never feel right comparing fighters from different eras. But I can tell you this without a doubt, I wouldn't feel comfortable fighting Lenox at all. Would have fanned my chances against pretty much every other weight of my time. Not he.

"I saved with Lenox and he was so big and strong. Even now when we meet, I feel like I'm in awe and I feel all the power when we shake hands. He is easily the best we have had in this country. & # 39;

To put it in today's context, Jay adds: "I think I would have beaten Tyson Hughes when we had to fight again in the day when he was younger and still learning."

Then, in reference to Joshua's sensational harassment of Ruiz Shnr, he said, "I know I would never have been kicked out of that cunning guy."

Warming Louise's admiration, he says: "If Muhammad Ali, Foosier and George Foreman were the golden age, then Lenox is our only one who could stand up to them.

Lewis raises his hands and Unionek Union triumphs

He sealed his place in history as the undisputed champion

Lewis raises his hands and Unionek Union in triumph (left) as he seals the place in history

"Surely as far as British heavy fighting is concerned, he is the man."

Indeed he is, victorious or a draw against the great Hollyfield, against whom the promised trilogy battles never materialized, even though the two continued to win world titles again.

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

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


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