Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has opened up on which of his many victories gave him the most satisfaction.
The 54 year-old, who retired from the sport in the early 2000’s, blasted out 32 of his 44 opponents during a stellar career.
Two of those KO wins were against challengers who had previously dethroned him of his top division crown. The second of which happened in 2001, Lewis holds the highest regard for.
Beating Hasim Rahman, not only after being wiped out by ‘The Rock’ in the first fight but also on the back of considerable bad blood, Lewis says it’s his standout night.
Speaking on what was the eighteenth anniversary of the crushing Las Vegas demolition job on Sunday, Lewis said: “On this day in 2001, I stopped Hasim Rahman in the fourth round of our rematch to regain my WBC, IBF, IBO & Lineal straps.
“This was probably the most satisfying victory of my professional career because of all that happened in the build-up to the rematch.”
That ‘build-up’ Lewis talks about was highly-controversial in parts. Not only for the lewd nature of some of the comments. Also down to the fact that Rahman seemingly went way above his station.
Becoming the world heavyweight champion and the divisional top dog is all good and well. But Lewis had put a professional marker on the title.
Rahman, winning with what was later called ‘a lucky punch’ and ‘down to laziness and underestimation’ on the part of Lewis, didn’t give him any given right to act the way he did.
Immediately signing with Don King after his shock triumph, Rahman took full advantage of his new-found position.
Multi-million dollar offers came flooding in. One to face Mike Tyson on HBO and another to battle Lewis on Showtime. Both approaching $20 million each. Rahman was amazingly advised to reject the contracts by King in favor of a $5 million deal to defend his straps against David Izon.
This would mean a guaranteed longer reign and the prospect of keeping the likes of Tyson, Lewis and Evander Holyfield out of the picture.
Upon hearing the news Rahman was trying to avoid a contracted rematch, Lewis launched a legal bid and won the right to face Rahman first.
The pair later appeared on ESPN’s ‘Gary Miller Up Close’. That’s when things got personal.
Calling him ‘gay’ in a previous interview for threatening to sue, Rahman was called out by Lewis on the show. ‘Why are you calling me gay? – I’m not gay,’ said Lewis.
The ‘Pugilist Specialist’ then assured Rahman he was ‘one hundred percent a woman’s man, so don’t even play that’. Even adding Rahman should ‘bring his sister’ to the return.
Warning Lewis not to mention his family, Rahman was clearly irked. The pair then stood up and the inevitable happened.
An on-camera scuffle, now famously doing the rounds on YouTube, went down. It only further exacerbated their dislike of each other.
On 17th November of 2001, Lewis ended the argument in emphatic fashion.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay