Lennox Lewis is peaking. At 34 years of age and well into
his second reign
as heavyweight champion of the world, the man now dubbed "The
Tower and Power of London" is fighting as well as he ever
has. Chalk it up to confidence.
Facing Frans Botha only eleven weeks after destroying former heir
apparent Michael Grant in two rounds, Lennox Lewis bounced to the
ring exuding relaxation. As the reggae strains of Bob Marley
filled an arena in his hometown of East London, Lewis dispatched
with the cold aggressive stare he has frequently worn into the
boxing ring. His opponent, rugged journeyman Frans Botha,
was expected to stick around awhile. He didn't.
Lewis coolly began the fight by thrusting his jab into Botha's
face. A second jab was followed by a big overhand right than
landed on Botha's temple and brought a roar from the crowd.
Botha began his retreat. Circling left, Botha moved away
from Lewis, who cautiously continued with the jab. With a
minute to go in the opening round, Lewis again landed the overhand
right, this time to side of the White Buffalo's head.
Moments later another right slammed into Botha's face and buckled
his knees. Stepping back on his heels, a stunned Botha
survived the round.
Despite pleas from trainer Abel Sanchez to not circle left, Botha
began the second round doing just that. On his toes and
working to stay farther away from Lewis, Botha got on his bike
while he contemplated a strategy to stop Lewis' steady and
measured aggression. Lewis used improved footwork to escape
without Lewis even throwing a punch. For two full minutes,
absolutely nothing happened. Botha looked to counter Lewis'
long punches and Lewis didn't throw any to give him the chance.
But then, in the blink of an eye, it was over.
Lewis finally committed to a combination and the devastation was
awesome. A heavy jab missed, but a overhand right with full
leverage came crashing behind it to the side of Botha's head.
Botha crumbled in place, and was just beginning to fall forward on
his face when a follow-up Lewis left hook smashed Botha flush in
the kisser. The force of that left hook reversed Botha's
momentum and instead of falling forward, he was now raised back
up...in perfect range for perhaps the biggest right hand Lewis has
ever landed. Blasting an already-dazed Botha's left eye, the
punch shook Botha's entire body and literally lifted both his feet
off the canvas. The four punches were thrown in less than
Botha fell full force through the ropes and nearly out of the
ring. He hung over the middle rope like drying laundry for
several seconds and somehow pushed himself back up to his feet.
His eyes were glazed, and his knees flapped in the breeze.
As he teetered in place and stretched out his back, referee Larry
O'Connell took a good hard look into his dead eyes and waved the
fight over. Lennox Lewis KO2.
Although his infamous caution was evident throughout, Lewis looked
completely relaxed during this short battle. Throwing
punches with the calm confidence of a late-version George Foreman,
Lewis looked as dominant as he ever has. David Tua has a lot
to think about before their November showdown.
After the bout, Lewis (37-1-1/29) soaked in the homecoming he had
long sought. Having not fought in the UK since his only
career loss, in which he was the victim of a second round KO,
Lewis' return couldn't have been more satisfying. Climbing
the ropes on each corner, the champion raised his hands as the
crowd offered their appreciation. Later, on the mic, Lewis boldly
told Mike Tyson to "put up or shut up!" and retorted
"Tyson is always (http://www.boxingchronicle.com/articles/tysonlou.html)
talking about eating this or that, this is the only thing he's
going to be eating" as he raised his right fist.
There are those who will suggest that the fight should have
continued. If it had, Botha surely would have been whacked
out in mere seconds more, perhaps even being seriously injured.
On the undercard, Monte Barrett may have been given one chance too
many and he paid the price, getting busted wide open by Ukrainian
giant Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko dominated Barrett during their boring contest.
Although Klitschko's jab paws and his right hands were barely
landing, the big man showed a dangerous element of his game by
brutalizing Barrett with short crisp punches on the inside.
Every time Barrett tried to crowd Klitschko and smother his power
by burying his head in the big man's chest, Klitschko retaliated
by dipping his knees a few inches and thrusting upward with sharp
power punches. A short left hook knocked Barrett down in the
first and again in the fourth. Uppercuts and occasional
elbows filled in the space between.
Barrett grew fatigued and weary, and by the sixth round was
hugging Klitschko in an effort to survive. But in the
seventh round, Klitschko again punished Barrett inside, knocking
him down with a short right cross and a shorter left hook. Barrett
rose on rubber legs and covered up immediately. A big
Klitschko right landed on top on his head and he again went down.
A small cut at the end of the right eyebrow streaked blood across
Barrett's face. Despite having been knocked down three times
and looking in no shape to continue, Barrett was allowed to go on.
Klitschko fired a lead left hook which landed on the cut followed
by a devastating right cross that hit Barrett's turning head in
the exact same spot. Timber. The referee yelled
"No More!" as Barrett's limp body was in the process of
collapsing to the canvas. Unaware that the fight had been
stopped, Barrett pushed himself up to all fours as blood poured
out of his face and painted a violent picture all over the
canvas. Even after Barrett's cornermen reached him, the
blood continued to flow. The little cut that opened before
the knockdown had grown to the length of his eyebrow. Expect
a status report in a few days that lists a three digit stitch
Klitschko earned an impressive knockout, but his weaknesses are
still apparent. His jab usually paws, he doesn't throw many
punches, and his conditioning is still suspect. But he threw
the crispest inside punches since Riddick Bowe, and they could
well be a major weapon anytime a heavyweight decides to lean on
Klitschko. To improve, Klitschko must continue to increase
the level of his opposition. Although Barrett had never
before been stopped, he was hardly a genuine test. Talk of a
Tyson-Klitschko fight is swirling in Europe. Although
Wladimir might be wide open at times for Tyson's wild haymakers,
it's unlikely that the Tyson sideshow will want to take the risk
with someone as big and strong as Klitschko.