October 4, 2016
October 4, 2016
lennox lewis

Action Images/Nick Potts

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1. CLUES about leading heavyweight contender Andrew Golota’s state of mind were not hard to find before he challenged world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis on October 4, 1997. The two bouts that created the Pole’s chance were disqualification losses to Riddick Bowe. On both occasions Golota, bossing the former champion impressively, hijacked victory by fouling incessantly with hacks below the beltline.

2. GOLOTA, largely unknown before the Bowe fights, was supposed to then fight slugger Ray Mercer only for the fight to be cancelled as a result of a neck injury to the 1988 Olympic champion.

3. LEWIS was struggling for respect coming into the fight. He emerged from a maul-fest with Henry Akinwande via disqualification three months before, and his failure to definitively put away an emotionally challenged Oliver McCall prior to that did not go down well with boxing fans.

4. THE challenger was an imposing physical specimen, and Lewis’ manager accused Golota of steroid use in the build-up to battle. Tests came back clear.

5. LEWIS was guaranteed a $4 million purse, with Golota set to pocket a cool $ 1.75 million. Despite the challenger’s ludicrous behaviour in the Bowe contests, he was seen as a massive threat to the Englishman. Lewis was a narrow favourite – 6-5 – but many were predicting a changing of the guard.

6. ALMOST 14,000 fans bought tickets to witness the showdown at the Atlantic City Convention Center, with a further 300,000 putting their hands in their pockets for the PPV broadcast.

7. GOLOTA, struggling with an injured knee, was injected with powerful painkiller lidocaine in an effort to stave off the discomfort. Following the bout, he was fined $5,000 for using the drug. His punishment triggered a $21 million lawsuit – from Golota – against the doctor that administered the shot. It all culminated in an out-of-court settlement of $1 million.

8. LEWIS was in exceptional form when the bout began and made a mockery of the doubters. An overhand right landed flush, and Golota was in trouble. Several more punches followed and the challenger went down under the pressure. He managed to regain his footing, briefly, but Lewis emphatically finished the job to complete one of his most impressive performances.

9. “THERE was too much pressure,” admitted the loose cannon afterwards. “I was nervous.” Golota’s accomplished trainer, Lou Duva, went further with his assessment of the proceedings. “He froze,” he said. Golota had a seizure after the fight and had to go to hospital before making a full recovery.

10. LEWIS said: “I wanted to get rid of all the misfits and this was the last misfit.”