Lennox Lewis : biography
In 1999, Lewis was given one of the most prestigious sports awards in Britain, being voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Reign as Undisputed Champion
After Lewis defeated Holyfield the WBA ordered Lewis to defend the title against John Ruiz of Puerto Rico, then an obscure Don King fighter who had been made the WBA’s #1-ranked contender. The WBA gave permission for Lewis to fight his WBC mandatory Michael Grant first if he would fight Ruiz next, which Lewis agreed to. Opposed to this, Ruiz’s promoter challenged this decision in court on the basis of a clause in the Lewis-Holyfield rematch contract that said Lewis’s first bout as undisputed champion would be against the WBA’s number one contender. Lewis was therefore to be stripped of his WBA belt if he fought Grant first. It was because of this that the WBA instated its "Super Champion" title, giving unified titleholders who also hold a WBA belt more time to defend against mandatory challengers.
Lewis proceeded to fight the 6 ft 8 inch American Michael Grant who he considered the best contender available. He successfully defended his WBC, IBO & IBF titles against Grant with a second round knockout victory in Madison Square Garden in April 2000.
Later that same year Lewis knocked out South African Francois Botha in two rounds in London, before winning a 12-round decision against New Zealander and IBF mandatory opponent, David Tua in Las Vegas.
Lewis vs. Rahman
On 21 April 2001, Lewis was knocked out by 15-to-1 underdog Hasim Rahman in a bout in South Africa. Prior to the bout, Lewis had a role in the film Ocean’s Eleven in which he "boxed" against Wladimir Klitschko.
Lewis vs. Rahman II
Lewis immediately sought a rematch with the new champion; however, Rahman, now being promoted by Don King, tried to secure another opponent for his inaugural title defence. Lewis took Rahman to court to honour the rematch clause in their contract. Rahman was ordered to honour the clause and give Lewis a rematch in his first title defence. While promoting the rematch with Rahman on ESPN’s Up Close, the fighters got into a brawl similar to the one between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in front of Howard Cosell on Wide World of Sports. Many felt the brawl was staged to promote the fight, so the reality of the episode is still a matter of debate. Lewis regained the title on 17 November by outclassing and then knocking out Hasim Rahman in the fourth round of their rematch.
Lewis vs. Tyson
On 8 June 2002, Lewis defended his title against Mike Tyson. A fight many had hoped would be a classic turned out to be one-sided as Lennox used his jab and superior reach to score a dominant knockout victory over "Iron Mike." By the end of the seventh round Tyson was tired and sluggish, his face swollen and his eyes cut. He was knocked out in the eighth by a right hook from Lewis. After the fight was over, George Foreman declared "He [Lewis] is, no doubt, the best heavyweight of all time. What he’s done clearly puts him on top of the heap.". YouTube. Retrieved on 2011-11-25. This fight was the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history, generating $106.9 million from 1.95 million buys in the U.S., until it was surpassed by De La Hoya-Mayweather in 2007.
Ticket sales were slow because they were priced as high as $2,400, but a crowd of 15,327 turned up to see Memphis, Tennessee’s biggest-ever sporting event. Tyson also had to pay Lewis $335,000 out of his purse for biting him at the news conference to announce the fight, which was originally scheduled for 6 April 2002 in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, however, rejected the fight because of Tyson’s licensing problems and several other states refused Tyson a license before Memphis finally bid $12 million to land it.
Lewis vs. Klitschko
In May 2003, Lewis sued boxing promoter Don King for $385 million, claiming that King used threats and bribery to have Tyson pull out of a rematch with Lewis and a fight on the card of a Lewis title defence. Lewis scheduled a fight with Kirk Johnson for June, but when Johnson suffered an injury in training, Lewis fought Vitali Klitschko, the WBC’s #1 contender and former WBO champion. Lewis had planned to fight him in December, but since Klitschko had been on the undercard of the Johnson fight anyway, they agreed to square off on June 21. Lewis entered the ring at a career high 256½ pounds. Lewis was dominated in the early rounds and was wobbled in round two by solid Klitschko punches. Lewis opened a cut above Klitschko’s eye with a right cross in the third round and gave a better showing in the fourth round, but was exhausted in the fifth and sixth rounds. Before the start of round seven the doctor advised that the fight should be stopped because of a severe cut above Klitschko’s left eye, awarding Lewis victory by TKO. Klitschko was leading 58–56 on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped.