Lennox Lewis vs Oliver McCall

Action Images/Nick Potts

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1. LENNOX LEWIS was a 4-1 favourite to avenge his defeat to Oliver McCall as the two former champions battled for the WBC world heavyweight belt on February 7, 1997. In their previous meeting McCall defeated Lewis via a second round stoppage, to take the same title away from the Londoner.

2. LEWIS was to earn around $2 million for the fight, which took place in the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, whilst McCall was offered a hefty sum of $3 million.

3. McCALL had a far from routine preparation for the fight. The year after losing his world title to Frank Bruno in 1995 McCall was marred with a number of arrests and charges for the “Atomic Bull”. He twice went into rehab on the back of being arrested for drug charges and antisocial violence.

4. FOLLOWING impressive victories over Tommy Morrison and Ray Mercer, Lewis came in 7 pounds heavier than McCall, so far the only fighter to hold a victory over the rangy Londoner.

5. THE favourite Lewis started the fight in confident fashion. The Brit controlled the first three rounds with stiff left jabs and occasional hard rights to the head. McCall refused to go to his corner after the third round and just walked around the ring.

6. FROM there on the fight became extremely bizarre. McCall, although covering up well, only threw two punches in the fourth. When the bell sounded, after being guided to the corner by the ref, the American fighter started crying profusely. Those around him were baffled as to what was going on.

Lennox Lewis vs Oliver McCall

7. HIS corner let him go out for the fifth – perhaps because McCall had been known to cry during his ring walks – but this time the emotionally unstable McCall could only manage to throw one punch. Referee Mills Lane then waved the fight off after 55 seconds, handing Lewis, as confused as anyone, the victory. With a crowd of around 4,500 booing, McCall swiftly made his way to the dressing room, not talking to anyone.

8. MONTHS later, McCall was detained in a mental hospital after his wife took out an emergency custody order against him. He was evaluated by a mental health expert, who testified at a detention hearing that McCall was mentally ill and in need of hospitalisation.

9. LEWIS would go on to defend his world title nine times before losing to Hasim Rahman in 2001; a defeat he avenged only months later via fourth round knockout.

10. PROMOTER Bob Arum summed the fight up after, saying: “We all learned a lesson tonight. If a kid is in rehab, you don’t let him into a major fight. A guy on drugs in withdrawal can do all sorts of crazy things.”