LENNOX LEWIS w rsf 6 VITALI KLITSCHKO
June 21, 2003; Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
IT now seems utterly barmy that Vitali Klitschko was brought in as Lennox Lewis’ opponent just two weeks before they engaged in one of the modern era’s most violent heavyweight encounters. But back then, the Ukrainian’s reputation had been hurt after he quit with an injury against Chris Byrd three years before. Even so, educated observers were surprised that Klitschko – set to take on Cedric Boswell on the undercard – was chosen after Lewis’ original opponent, Kirk Johnson, was forced to withdraw with injury. The fight was brutal. Lewis was hurt in the second and under the cosh before opening a cut on his rival in the third. By the sixth, Klitschko – still very much in the bout – looked like he’d fallen face first into a bucket of barbed wire. The referee’s decision to end the bout caused chaos.
DID YOU KNOW? Two years before they fought, Lewis claimed that he could have Vitali Klitschko for breakfast and his brother, Wladimir, for lunch. But one Klitschko proved ample. Lewis never fought again; Vitali never lost again.
WATCH OUT FOR: A moment of madness in the fourth round. As both fighters tumble to the floor in a clinch, Klitschko – a former kickboxer – aims a kick at his opponent as they try to get up. The post-fight interviews are worth another look, too.