On this day: Lennox Lewis punishes and knocks out Mike Tyson in eight rounds
It was the richest heavyweight championship fight of all time.
On June 8, 2002, Lennox Lewis retained his Ring, IBF and WBC titles by posting a brutal eighth-round knockout over the legendary Mike Tyson at The Pyramid in Memphis. The official time was 2:25.
While Tyson could bite into the champion’s leg during a pre-fight press conference melee, it was Lewis who did all the damage where it mattered most. In the eighth, Tyson was staggered by a ferocious uppercut and shortly thereafter, Lewis closed the show with a vicious right to the jaw. Tyson, with blood pouring from deep cuts over both eyes, tried to beat the count but referee Eddie Cotton reached 10 with the former champ on one knee.
Tyson put forth a decent impersonation of himself in the opening round, closing the gap on Lewis and attacking head and body with savage power punches. However, the big Londoner stood his ground and unloaded big shots of his own in a bid to earn respect. Energy bar depleted at the end of three minutes, Tyson’s performance level would drop round after round.
Lewis’ jab was solid, the uppercut was a fantastic weapon, and the straight right hands were punishing. It looked for all the world that Tyson wouldn’t survive to the midway of the fight, but Lewis still exerted a degree of caution. Implored by legendary trainer Emanuel Steward to end the fight, Lewis went all-in to finish the former champ in a memorable eighth round.
“He was ducking to my right, and I just wanted to catch him as he was doing that,” Lewis said at the post-fight press conference. “I caught him and he went down.
“Some of the punches he took, I was shocked. I felt them right through to my hand.”
There would be one more fight for Lewis – a sixth-round stoppage of Vitali Klitschko – before he announced his retirement in 2004. Tyson bowed out of the sport the following year.
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