The creation of historical past might be as forgettable as it’s memorable. On April 22, 2001, in Carnival Metropolis, South Africa, American heavyweight Hasim Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis within the fifth spherical to win the WBC, IBF, and IBO heavyweight championships. Lewis vs Rahman I used to be devoid of nice motion and is notable strictly for Lewis’ surprising unseating as heavyweight king, which appeared to substantiate the doubts of those that couldn’t overlook when he had been shocked in related style by Oliver McCall in 1994. For Rahman, it was the triumphant end result of a journey that had taken him from the drug-laden initiatives of Baltimore to the apex of the heavyweight division—one nice punch that without end altered his destiny.
Given the turbulent observe of his life, that Rahman was even capable of create a profitable boxing profession is a testomony to his resolve. As soon as an enforcer for drug sellers, he had survived a number of shootings and a horrific automotive crash earlier than beginning to field at age 20. He compiled a 34-2 skilled document and had lately defeated Frankie Swindell and Corrie Sanders to earn his shot at Lewis. The champion was coming off current wins towards David Tua and Francois Botha, however some suspected focus was missing in his preparation as a consequence of his current involvement with the filming of the Hollywood film Ocean’s Eleven. His lackluster efficiency would validate these suspicions.
From the opening bell, Lewis, preventing at 253 lbs, was clearly not sharp, and appeared fatigued, throwing fewer punches per spherical than ordinary and jabbing ineffectively. Rahman, exhibiting little trepidation, boxed neatly though with an apparent warning employed to stop being victimized by Lewis’ jab and heavy proper hand. A disparity of expertise was apparent between the 2 males, however the champion couldn’t take full benefit. In the beginning of the fourth around the tempo picked up as each males began to field extra aggressively and throw heavier punches. However Lewis, who demonstrated slightly extra hearth on this sequence, couldn’t preserve the momentum and because the motion regressed it grew to become apparent that the longer the battle went, the extra vulnerable the champion could be to getting caught by one exhausting shot.
That shot got here within the very subsequent spherical. Rahman answered the bell visibly extra energized than Lewis, and halfway by way of the spherical tagged the champion with a tough proper. At this Lewis smiled, presumably to mock the challenger, however in doing so gave himself away, since fighters usually smile to disguise ache or alarm. Spurred on, Rahman chased Lewis to the ropes, having grow to be the battle’s basic. Nonetheless smiling, a gassed Lewis then dropped his arms as Rahman appeared to again off. Abruptly, the challenger shifted course, pressured Lewis again to the ropes, and fired. Hammered by a thunderous proper hand, Lewis toppled to the canvas. He by no means got here near beating the rely. With one devastating shot, his world was upended, his title misplaced.
HBO’s Jim Lampley punctuated the knockout by invoking Lewis’ stunning 1994 loss to Oliver McCall and Mike Tyson’s 1990 defeat to Buster Douglas, related cases through which the champion was overwhelmed by his personal lack of focus. To not be outdone, George Foreman started to awkwardly sing “America the Stunning,” clearly excited that boxing followers stateside had a local son again on the division’s apex. Rahman, euphoric at having conquered his closely favoured opponent, raised his arms in triumph as his nook went wild and a shocked and dazed Lewis was relegated to his stool the place the medical support he acquired couldn’t probably deal with the harm completed to his ego.
A retired Lewis would later declare in an interview with British boxing present Ringside that “every thing wasn’t aligned for me that day.” He known as Rahman’s shattering punch “a fortunate shot,” contrasting it together with his extra calculated knockout of The Rock of their rematch later that yr, which, to his credit score, was among the finest heavyweight knockouts of the last decade. Lewis was unwilling to afford Rahman a lot reward, emphasizing his personal inadequacy fairly than the efforts of his opponent.
Whereas Lewis’ opinions right here could be justified, his efficiency on this battle stays one of many blackest marks on his document. An incredible expertise whose fusion of energy and boxing acumen made him the very best heavyweight of his era, Lewis nonetheless was shocked by lesser lights like Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, and pushed to the sting of defeat by the gutsy Vitali Klitschko. Regardless of his dominance and excessive standing, Lewis will without end be remembered for these few cases through which poor focus and a vulnerable chin made him the prey of lesser fighters.
However maybe that is too harsh an evaluation. Profitable the heavyweight championship after which defending it efficiently requires a resolve that borders on the superhuman. That Lewis solely misplaced twice professionally, and avenged each defeats, is a testomony to each his will and skill. Whereas really nice champions ought to by no means lose so ignominiously, the sheer heavy-handedness of heavyweight boxing may end up in fast and unexpected terminations, as one punch can alter way more than the course of a battle. For Rahman, one punch earned him the heavyweight title within the final transcending of previous circumstances, whereas for Lewis, it served as probably the most forgettable second of his in any other case nice profession. — Eliott McCormick
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