Lennox Lewis made the physically biggest heavyweight fight in history a short one, knocking down previously unbeaten Michael Grant four times and winning in the second round.
One night after being honored as fighter of the year for 1999, the champion from London landed a tremendous right uppercut Saturday night that knocked Grant on his back with 21 seconds left in the round.
Grant was unable to beat referee Arthur Mercante Jr.'s count of 10.
"It was only a matter of time," the 34-year-old Lewis said.
Though the fight didn't end until 2:53 of the second round, it was over for all intents and purposes when the 6-foot-5 (1.93-meter), 247-pound (111-kilogram) Lewis knocked down the 6-7 (1.98-meter) 250-pound (112.5-kilogram) Grant in the first round.
The raucous Madison Square Garden crowd had barely settled down from the introductions when Lewis knocked down Grant with a right to the body and a right to the head with 1:22 left in the round.
Grant struggled up at 6 and took the mandatory 8-count.
Lewis immediately jumped on Grant and a flurry of punches sent the challenger reeling into a corner where he was kept upright by the ring post. Mercante ruled it a knockdown and gave Grant an 8-count.
A weary Grant looked like he might get through the round without further damage, but then with 21 seconds left, Lewis caught him with a right-left and a hard right to the head put him down again.
This time, Grant got up at 7 and then the bell rang.
It was one of Lewis' most impressive performances. The champion who has sometimes been criticized for being too cautious and lackadaisical never gave Grant a chance before a crowd of 17,324.
In two previous Garden appearances, Grant had won a disputed 10-round majority decision in 1996 over Ray Mercer in a fight more than a few people thought Mercer had won. Then on March 13, 1999, in an undisputed title match that most people thought Lewis clearly won, he had to settle for a majority draw against Evander Holyfield.
While Lewis had retained his WBC title and won the IBF and WBA championships from Holyfield in their rematch Nov. 13, only the IBF and WBC titles were at stake Saturday night.
A federal judge ruled that Lewis would have to give up the WBA title because he reached a contract with promoter Don King for signing to fight Grant instead of signing for a title defense against the highest available defender.
Grant almost didn't get his title bid when he narrowly escaped defeat against Andrew Golota, who knocked Grant down twice in the first round of a bout on Nov. 20. But Grant got up and rallied to win when Golota quit in the 10th round.
Grant had no chance to rally against Lewis.
"I was very surprised when he came at me," Lewis said of the way Grant attacked from the opening bell. "I realized that I had superior hand speed. I could see when he was winding up, I just held my position so I could get a good shot.
"Every time I hit him, he went down. So I just kept hitting him," he said.
Lewis said he would continue to box "until I'm satisfied."
"And now every time I get into the ring, I get more satisfied," he said.
Seth Abraham, president of Time Warner Sports, said before the fight that it was likely Lewis would fight Francois Botha on July 19 in London and then, if successful, he would fight David Tua in November.
Lewis, who was guaranteed $10 million to $4 million for Grant, is now 36-1-1 with 28 knockouts.