Lennox Lewis Vindicated With 4th Round KO Over Hasim Rahman
By Alex Pierpaoli
11/18/01(originally posted at EastsideBoxing.com) —Lennox Lewis is Heavyweight Champion again after knocking Hasim “Rock” Rahman out with a left hook-right cross combination in the fourth round at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Lewis dominated the fight from the start with sharp stinging jabs, superior footwork, and a focused sense of menace seldom seen from this present-day Heavyweight Great. Rahman, who dominated the weeks of hype and psychological posturing leading up to tonight’s fight, never got a chance to land any damaging punches and was on the receiving end of a beating which probably solidified Lewis’ spot as the dominant Heavyweight force of the last five years.
Lewis, who came to the ring wearing a cold, glazed look, with mayhem on his mind, was in control from the opening bell and cut Rahman over the right eye before the first minute expired. While it was Rahman’s jab in round one of their fight in South Africa that brought the fight to Lewis, tonight it was the reverse. Lewis pumped numerous jabs into the face of Rahman, breaking his rhythm and halting his forward motion. By the end of the first, Rahman was able to squeeze off a few jabs of his own, but Lewis was able to use his reach and careful footwork to get his jab to the target, Rahman’s chin, far more frequently.
In the clinches Rahman cracked at the ribs of Lewis with his free right hand in hopes of breaking down the body and softening Lewis up for the later rounds. But Lewis owned the exchanges at a distance and kept the fight in the center of the ring, constantly forcing Rahman to turn and follow him as he popped him with jabs, left hooks and right crosses. Rahman followed Lewis with his right hand cocked back waiting for an opening which, unlike in South Africa, never came. Rahman was unable to mount much of an offense because of Lewis’ well-timed straight punches with kept Rahman at a safe distance where Lewis could crack him and not have to worry about being countered. While their first meeting showed Lewis was very vulnerable to a strong, decent heavyweight, the rematch proved that Lewis was the far more skilled athlete and the knockout loss was more of a single aberration in a long career than a sign that Lewis’ best days were behind him.
In the fourth Lewis fired a left hook which brushed the jaw but got Rahman to react just enough to miss the monstrous right cross which followed and sent him reeling to the canvas. Rahman started to his feet only to fall forward again into Lewis’ corner where Referee Joe Cortez reached the count of 10. Lewis beat his chest after the kayo and celebrated with his handlers proving that what he’s been saying for the last seven months was true, the loss in South Africa was just a fluke, a speed bump along the road to heavyweight greatness. After vanquishing Rahman, Lewis draped the championship belts over his 246 pound frame and shouted into HBO’s camera: “I told you they were on loan!” Lewis went on to tell HBO’s Larry Merchant he had hoped to re-name Rahman “Has-been.” Fittingly, Lennox got his wish with a single right hand similar to the one that Rahman landed on him back in April.
With the victory, Lewis became one of only a handful of men to regain the Heavyweight Championship-Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson all regained the title a second time. This is actually the third win for Lewis which ties him with Holyfield and Ali as three time winners, although there should be an asterisk next to Lewis’ accomplishment as the WBC title was vacated by Riddick Bowe and then awarded to Lewis before he lost it to Oliver McCall and then won it back in a rematch.
After a dominating victory such as the kayo over Rahman, it is easy to imagine Lewis against the past great heavyweight champions. Because of his enormous size and strategic boxing savvy, Lennox Lewis would do well in a tournament of all-time greats. The problem for Lewis is in capturing the imagination of the fans, especially the American public. If Lewis fought the way he did tonight more often by coming into the ring to do damage rather than simply to outbox an opponent, he would certainly become more of star in the States.
Above all else tonight’s victory proved that when Lennox Lewis is focused on the business at hand there is not a heavyweight alive that can beat him.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com