LENNOX LEWIS returned to the stage of his American debut on October 7, 1995 when he took on Tommy Morrison. The bout was set for the Atlantic City Convention Center and victory was crucial for both men as they . Lewis – who had recently joined forces with Emmanuel Steward – had failed to convince in his two comeback bouts since losing his WBC title to Oliver McCall, and Morrison – the former WBO boss – was hoping to build on an impressive win over Razor Ruddock and secure a world title shot.
ALREADY financially secure, Lewis was more interested in proving himself in the ring than the riches he could earn. He spent long periods dedicating himself to improvement, in Steward’s Kronk Gym and for this bout, in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
LEWIS earned $2.4million and Morrison picked up $2.1million for the showdown, that was watched in the arena by 8, 369.
IT did not provide the thrills and spills that many hoped but it was an impressive performance from Lewis as he handed out a one-sided beatdown. He dropped Morrison once in the second, again in the fifth, before two knockdowns concluded matters in the sixth.
MORRISON was forced to pursue victory for much of the fight with just one eye as Lewis’ powerful mits forced his right eye to clamp shut. Morrison retained his sense of humour in the aftermath, saying: “With Ray Mercer it was inexperience, with Michael Benntt it was a case of not training properly – I liked girls too much – and this time if I’d practised sparring with a patch over my eye I would have kicked Lewis’ ass.”
“THE DUKE”, when asked how to beat Lewis, said, “Kick him straight in the balls.” The respectful loser went on to say he thought the Englishman was capable of regaining the title.
LEWIS would do just that. In his next fight he survived a 10-round war with Ray Mercer, winning a decision, before beating old conqueror McCall for the vacant WBC title in February 1997. It was a farcical affair, but Lewis would go on to craft a fine heavyweight legacy, as he defeated the likes of Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Vitali Klitschko before retiring in 2004.
MORRISON’S story did not end well. He tested positive for HIV after the bout, and his career was all but over. The affable star claimed the test results were inaccurate, and he campaigned to be allowed to box again. He did have three more fights – all knockout wins – under questionable legislation, but it was clear he was not the same fighter. Morrison died, aged just 44, in September 2014.