On this day 15 years ago, Lennox Lewis defeated Vitali Klitschko in heavyweight classic


On June 21, 2003 — fifteen years ago today — the boxing world saw two of the greatest heavyweights fight in a showdown for the ages.

Lennox Lewis (40-2-1 at the time) took on Vitali Klitschko (32-1 at the time) to defend the WBC heavyweight title in a bout billed as the “Battle of the Titans.”

Lewis came out on top in what was a controversial ending via technical knockout due to a severe cut above Klitschko’s eye. The bout ended after just six rounds after ringside doctors deemed the injury — which would require 60 stitches — to be too significant to continue. Those six rounds were extremely close and hard-fought from both boxers.

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Klitschko came in as the underdog but started strong as the aggresor and delivered enough hard punches to be awarded the first two rounds on the judges’ scorecards. The third round was when Lewis delivered a strong right cross that opened up the wound that would eventually spell Klitschko’s end. Following a tough fourth round, both fighters showed clear fatigue and after two more brutal rounds, the fight was stopped. 

Klitschko was ahead on the scorecards 58-56 at the fight’s conclusion. The audience booed Lewis as he was named the victor and cheered Klitschko — it also sparked desire for a rematch that, unfortunately for boxing fans, never came to be.

While initially agreeing to a rematch that would’ve taken place at the end of 2003, Lewis backed out with the intention of not fighting again that year. After Klitschko earned the right for a rematch by defeating Kirk Johnson, Lewis retired from boxing in February 2004, subsequently vacating his titles and depriving the boxing world of championship showdown between two heavyweight greats.

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