Lennox Lewis said it wasn't possible for him to lose a second time to Hasim Rahman, and he was right.
Lewis regained the WBC and IBF heavyweight titles on a fourth-round knockout of Rahman in Las Vegas last night.
The end came 89 seconds into the round when Lewis landed a left-right and then a crashing right that dropped Rahman on his back.
"I never saw the punch coming," Rahman said.
The punch was every bit as devastating as the right hand Rahman used to knock out Lewis on 22 April.
All three judges gave Lewis the first three rounds. According to a CompuBox punch analysis, Lewis landed 72 of 144 punches thrown and Rahman got home with 48 of 105.
Lewis became the fourth man to regain the heavyweight championship from the fighter to whom he had lost it. The others were Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield.
It was mostly a battle of left jabs until Lewis crashed home the hard right that won it for him.
Lewis, looking much trimmer than he did when he lost the title to Rahman in South Africa, cut his opponent over the left eye in the first round and shook him with a couple of right hands in the third.
Twenty seconds into the fourth round, Lewis landed another hard right, as if signifying the end was at hand for Rahman.
After Lewis knocked Rahman down, Lewis pounded his chest. After the fight, he said Rahman should change his name from Hasim to "Has Been."
In the build-up to the fight, Rahman angered Lewis by making insinuations about his sexuality, and the two were kept apart in the last pre-fight press conference and at the weigh-in.
The stunning ending preserved the 36-year-old Lewis' career. He said if he couldn't beat Rahman, there was no sense in continuing to fight.
Lewis had to go to court to have Rahman give him an immediate rematch, and that provoked Rahman.
Lewis now could get a rich fight with Mike Tyson. There is talk of Tyson fighting Ray Mercer on Jan. 19, possibly in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
A couple of days before the fight, Rahman had said: "I feel a knockout."
The only thing he felt Saturday night before 10,500 fans was a knockout punch.
The 6ft 5in (2-meter) Lewis, who weighed 246 1/2 pounds (110 kilograms) ? 6 1/2 pounds (3 kilograms) under his career-high weight in the first fight ? looked relaxed and confident from the start.
Many boxing observers felt Lewis might fight cautiously, as he has done several times in the past. Lewis had a lot of snap in his jab, however, and beginning in the third round, he started firing his right with confidence and authority.
"I definitely wasn't gun shy," Lewis said. "I got him in the fourth round, so I'm one up on him.
Rahman, 236 pounds (106 kilograms), landed several good jabs in the first two rounds, but never got in a punch that rattled Lewis.
Lewis, of Britain, was a 5-2 favorite and he looked every bit of it. s the fight progressed, it was the champion who became tentative.
It all came out with a left hook and hard right that ripped the titles from Rahman's grasp.
"He showed a lot of disrespect for me. I was keeping it inside," Lewis said. "I told you he was just a freshman in the game."
The 29-year-old Rahman, of Abingdon, Maryland, lost for the third time ? all by knockout ? against 35 wins. He has 29 knockouts.
Lewis is now 39-2-1 with 30 knockouts. His record in championship fights is 13-2-1 with eight knockouts.
Each fighter made a minimum of $10 million for the pay-per-view match. Lewis will make much more should he fight Tyson.Reuse content