I confess that I didn’t care for the first Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield fight in the day and thus never had any reason to revisit it other than in sometimes spirited verbal debate arising over such controversial decisions. Finally, 15 years later I pulled it up today for a stylistic comparison of the last “great” American heavyweight as he wound down his career.
In boxing what goes around comes around as the more things change the more they remain the same and every other lame duck adage you can conjure up. Boxing “officials” back then stifled the righteous unification of the titles that Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield each held.
I only wanted see the fight, not to listen to blowhard announcers or review drunken punch monkey stats all strategically placed in to disrupt the basic sounds and sights of the fight. The average viewer soon becomes duped into thinking he is in the magnificent present of all knowing boxing experts emceeing the typical broadcast entertainment extravaganza. Me thinks that this particular fight set the modern productions of the many international title events “promoted” by the entertainment industry moguls that have followed.
Holyfield is the last “great” American heavy at the end of his productive years propped up in Madison Square Garden as his “international” rival Lewis agrees to fly across the Atlantic for the big unification bout everyone and their granny wants to see. The judges are from South Africa, UK, and US with New York based Arthur Mercante Jr. the referee. Big George, Larry and Lamps are the Moe, Larry, and Curly announcing trio with the last great heavyweight trainer Emanuel Steward in the Lewis corner. Roy Jones Jr is set up at another studio and still on top of the boxing world as his braggadocio shoots off the charts. Everyone looks impossibly young and healthy, yet shockingly Steward is no longer with us. Life is fickle and certainly not as permanent as it sometimes seems during our day to day struggles that seem unceasing before we tune in for ol’ reliable to get the juices roiling, the birthright of Americans, a big match heavyweight duke’em up.
Mercante impossibly slips a missed Real Deal left hook early on that most certainly would have sent him into the 3rd row had it connected as he demonstrated great reflexes and physicality in this grappling, big man affair. The fight turned out to be much better than I remembered though it petered out the last two rounds that doubtless increased the latitude of the scoring as well as dampened my memory of the fight. It was more informative this time around because of the context of the passage of time, so I ended up watching the whole broadcast instead of just the fight.
The broadcast ended up extremely raw and forthright as the hosts and participants struggled to make sense of the incomprehensible.
Lamps is all over the “stench” of the scoring as soon as the scorecards are announced. The setup was the typical Don King promoted modis operandi in the day and still the same format used in many big international fights today. British judge brought in to stay mum with the draw scoring while the American female judge has it for Holyfield and the South African judge for Lewis, the perfect foil for the perfect draw denouement pre-orchestrated by all time scoundrel Don King.
Noteworthy are the vast boos from the majority 21,000 American crowd who certainly have no history of ever taking a shine to Lewis. The reported 7500 Brits flying over to attend the fight can be heard all through taking up the Lewis chant. Had no idea Lewis was “that” popular with Brits in the day though I knew he had a good following.
Emmanuel Steward point blank: “This is is killing boxing.”
Fast forward>>> Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook>>> and we had California based referee Pat Russel as the 3rd man in the ring, the British judge mum again with a draw as the two American judges showed their “impartiality” by going all for the British Brook who is now suddenly mooted for all these artificial “superfights” boxing is desperate to make. The poorly attended crowd of 3000 didn’t have much to cheer about in this poor card that also featured touted American flagship heavyweight contender Deontay Wilder fighting a prelim in front of maybe a few hundred spectators who cheered on his TBA opponent. Sad to see boxing come down to such a low level that the long maligned Lewis/Holyfield fight actually looks good in comparison even if the past it Holyfield fought a poor fight.