Lennox Lewis was stunned by the underdog 20-1 Hasim Rahman exactly 19 years ago – this is what happened

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Hasim Rahman has amazed the world for 19 years to the day by laying Lennox Lewis on his stomach on his back in the air at Carnival City Casino in South Africa.

Perhaps Rahman would be the name synonymous with gigantic upheavals across the sports world without the seismic defeat of Buster Douglas against Mike Tyson.

Bookmakers, Lewis, and Las Vegas casinos were so confident that none of the regular Sin City players would even offer site fees to organize the heavyweight title fight.

How wrong they were. The former Olympic champion was struck by a perfect image of the right hand in the fifth and could not beat the count.

So how did the British superstar show up so spectacularly?

Hasim Rahman (right) shocked the world by eliminating Lennox Lewis (left) in 2001

Hasim Rahman (right) shocked the world by eliminating Lennox Lewis (left) in 2001

Lewis was stunned and admitted he could barely believe what had happened

Lewis was stunned and admitted that he could barely believe what had happened

Lewis had long sought a mega-silver confrontation with Tyson.

When neither of the two men was at the height of his powers, it was the fight everyone wanted to see. But Tyson’s chaotic personal life and a conflict between the television networks and the promoters made setting up the competition increasingly difficult.

Lewis already had three title defenses in 2000 and would wait a little longer for Tyson’s extravagance.

In the meantime, it has been decided that he will have a simple fight to overthrow him.

Rahman was the man with the golden ticket. He was a knockout artist, but had two losses on his record, one against David Tua (whom Lewis easily pointed out) and the other at the hands of Uzbekistan Oleg Maskayev.

No one gave Rahman a chance but the Baltimore man was confident in his abilities

No one gave Rahman a chance, but the Baltimore man was confident in his abilities

Almost all experts thought he was fed by lions by putting him with Lewis, who was the 20-1 favorite. Only one regular US treasure boxer made the trip across the Atlantic and George Foreman summed it up by saying, “I expected Lennox Lewis to win this fight seven days a week, 24 hours a day. . “

Lewis was the golden boy and darling of the media, but his adversary had suffered a brutal start to life on the streets of Baltimore.

Rahman has scars on his face and neck where 500 stitches were used to sew him up after a car accident. He still carries the bullet and stabs wounds elsewhere on his body as a somber reminder of how his fate might have been different.

But Rahman received a hero's welcome upon his return home after the upheaval

But Rahman was greeted by a hero when he returned home after the upheaval

He was an executor from an area known as “The Store” – aptly named for the breadth and variety of drugs on sale.

But boxing offered an emergency exit and the American took it.

He dedicated himself to Lewis’ pre-fight training camp, arriving in Johannesburg on March 27 to get used to the altitude and preparing to do 12 rounds at 5200 feet above sea level.

Lewis, 35 at the time, perhaps allowing complacency to settle down with everyone radiant Rahman, remained in Las Vegas until April 10.

He chose to stay in the United States in part at least for his role as a cameo in Ocean’s Eleven. Rubbing shoulders with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts for the Hollywood blockbuster was not the ideal preparation for a title fight, even if his scene was in the ring.

Lewis was busy filming for the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean's Eleven, alongside (left-right) George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle

Lewis was busy filming for the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven, alongside (left-right) George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle

Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts (right) watch Lewis' fight scene in the movie

Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts (right) watch Lewis’ fight scene in the movie

Lewis spent only a few days in Las Vegas but arrived late in South Africa

Lewis only spent a few days in Las Vegas but arrived late in South Africa

Then his former promoter Panos Eliades told the Guardian, “It was crazy to think of being in a movie so soon before a fight. And does he think Julia Roberts will want to know him now that he’s a former champion?

His part of the film only took two days to shoot and was spot on in Las Vegas, but the distractions continued to happen, even after Lewis left for South Africa.

He participated in numerous photo and meeting sessions, and sat with Winnie Mandela at her home in Soweto.

British heavyweight has been busy in South Africa and has met Winnie Mandela (right)

British heavyweight has been busy in South Africa and has met Winnie Mandela (right)

But Lewis was not physically fit and seemed to take his opponent lightly

But Lewis was not physically fit and seemed to take his opponent lightly

The strange place of combat, the Carnival City Casino, with its marquees and rides

The strange place of combat, the Carnival City Casino, with its marquees and rides

Lewis was also diagnosed by doctors as having an extreme jet lag, entered the 18-stone fight, the heaviest he had ever been in a fight in his career so far, and was far from in shape.

The hindsight, of course, colors the pre-fight context, but if it was not clear at the time that Lewis had not fully respected Rahman, it was when the fight started in the bizarre place , who saw a boxing ring erected in the middle of the big tents. and carnival rides in the “carnival city”.

Lewis was much less busy than usual, perhaps struggling with altitude, but generally retained control of the opening laps.

The judges all had the British fighter on the dashboards before the fifth, although the fight had been a close and largely uneventful affair. But Lewis was not himself.

Lewis controlled the early procedures but was not his usual self and Rahman was right

Lewis controlled the first procedures but was not his usual self and Rahman was right

Rahman supported Lewis with a series of strikes before landing a hammer blow on the chin

Rahman supported Lewis with a series of strikes before landing a hammer blow on the chin

Those crowded into the screaming casino 32 km from Johannesburg and viewers around the world were electrified by what happened next.

With a minute and 20 seconds on the clock in the fifth, Rahman clinched a heavy right hand. He connected to a thud and Lewis smiled, but the shot was significant.

About 30 seconds later, Rahman pumped five successive shots to support Lewis on the ropes. Lewis looked extremely relaxed and smiled again as he bounced off the ropes.

In doing so, Rahman propelled a huge right hand in the middle and sent the champion to the canvas. A dazed Lewis managed to support himself but was comfortably beaten by the count.

The American picked up a huge right hand across the guard to knock out the champion

The American grabbed a huge right hand across the guard to knock out the champion

HBO commentator Larry Merchant said the immortal phrase: “He just drowned in Ocean’s Eleven.

Immediately after, Lewis could barely understand what had happened.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. He caught me with a good blow. But I felt good afterwards. Revenge will be as soon as possible.

“I felt good in there. That’s what’s going on in heavyweight boxing – you get a good hit, you go down. If you don’t beat the count, that’s it – the fight has stopped.

Rahman said, “I told you everything I trusted,” he said. “I continued my prayers and did all of my training. And I came with a punch … a punch.

“I felt that the longer the fight lasted, I would have a chance. There can be no excuse on his part.

And yet the excuses came thick and quick.

Last year, Rahman told the Independent, “I’ve heard so much since that night. So many excuses; man, Lewis was a world champion, he had been to two Olympics, he had a gold medal. He knew what to expect and he lost. It was not luck, I was not lucky. I knocked it out.

“I was given no respect – it motivated me, it showed me that Lewis had faults. Why would a heavyweight neglect another heavyweight? Any truck weighing more than 200 pounds can injure you. I knew I was going to beat Lewis, I just knew.

Don King (right) signed Rahman upon his return to the United States as a star after the victory

Don King (right) signed Rahman upon his return to the United States as a star after the victory

Rahman still deplores Lewis's apologies and says he always knew he would win the fight

Rahman still deplores Lewis’ apologies and says he always knew he would win the fight

The outsider had his day and was an overnight star in the United States. He signed a $ 5 million deal with promoter Don King.

He then turned down lucrative offers from Showtime and HBO to cash in an additional $ 5 million against former IBO champion Brian Nielsen, but the fight failed.

Lewis had a revenge clause in his contract and took the case to court, hoping to get the second fight for the summer. A judge ruled in his favor and the two sides finally agreed on the terms of the fight in November.

Lewis won a spectacular victory with a left-right combination in the fourth. His purse was $ 11 million and Rahman’s was just under $ 10 million.

Normal service had resumed in the heavyweight division. Rahman continued to lose six more fights over the next 12 years, and Lewis ended his own career in style, beating Tyson and Vitali Klitchsko before hanging up on the gloves.

However, neither he nor Rahman will ever forget the amazing upheaval that rocked the boxing world within 19 years ago.

Lewis would have his revenge by eliminating Rahman at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in November

Lewis became triple world champion that night

Lewis would have his revenge by eliminating Rahman at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in November – he became three-time world champion with his fourth round victory that night

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