Lennox Lewis Beats Evander Holyfield This Day November 13, 1999 and Wins the Heavyweight Crown
- Lennox Lewis 242 lbs
- Evander Holyfield 217 lbs
- UD in round 12 of 12
- Location: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Mitch Halpern
- Judge: Chuck Giampa 116-112
- Judge: Bill Graham 117-111
- Judge: Jerry Roth 115-113
- Unofficial AP scorecard: 116-113 Lewis
- World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (6th defense by Lewis)
- World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (5th defense by Holyfield)
- International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Title (3rd defense by Holyfield)
Both fighters were guaranteed $15 million.
Lewis was a slight betting favorite.
A crowd of 17,078 produced a gate of $16,860,300.
The fight was televised live on pay-per-view by TVKO, HBO’s pay-per-view company. The bout generated 850,000 buys.
Timothy W. Smith reported the following in the November 14, 1999, edition of the New York Times:
Lewis entered the ring bebopping to reggae music, preceded by a fellow carrying a large Union Jack. Holyfield entered to gospel music and with a scowl. The response of the crowd was evenly mixed, with cheers for both fighters. The ring introductions were drowned out intermittently by songs from many of the estimated 5,000 British fans who had come here to root for Lewis, who was born in London and raised in Canada.
When the two fighters were alone in the ring for the first time, the 6-foot-5-inch Lewis towered over the 6-2 Holyfield. But when the first round began, Holyfield took the action to Lewis. Holyfield charged in and did more work inside in the first round than he did in the entire fight the first time. He was able to land a double jab at one point. But Lewis smothered Holyfield when he got in too close. Holyfield was bouncing and on his toes and was showing a great deal of movement.
In the second round, Holyfield pressed an attack to the body, landing a nice left hook to Lewis’s side. Lewis landed a nice right uppercut that caught Holyfield flush under the chin.
Lewis showed little movement and at times looked sluggish in the third round. He was standing straight up like a statue when Holyfield landed a big right hand with about 30 seconds to go. Then, Holyfield followed it up with another right on Lewis’s face. The two fighters finished in a clutch with Holyfield trying to pop Lewis again as the bell sounded.
Lewis landed a couple of nice uppercuts in the fourth round and seemed to have snapped out of the funk that had engulfed him through the first three rounds. But Holyfield continued to work on Lewis’s body, pounding Lewis’s midsection whenever the two were in a clinch.
Lewis sustained a cut over his right eye in the fifth round, claiming it was from a head butt. Right after it happened Lewis pushed Holyfield into the ropes and appeared to be trying to toss him over the top rope. But Holyfield held onto Lewis’s neck to keep himself from falling out of the ring. Referee Mitch Halpern had to separate the boxers, and he sent Lewis to a corner to have the ring doctor, Flip Homansky, look at the cut.
The seventh round turned out to contain the fireworks that the fighters had promised. Holyfield stunned and wobbled Lewis with a couple of big right hands, but he couldn’t take him out. The fighters stood toe-to-toe and slugged each other, but Holyfield got the better of the exchanges. Lewis sagged and looked spent. Holyfield kept searching Lewis’s eyes for some sign of resignation. Lewis did not give it to him.
Before the fight, Lewis said he was not afraid of a one-punch knockout by Holyfield. Lewis said it was the 15 punches that put Holyfield’s opponents down. By the eighth round those punches had begun to mount against Lewis, and his own punches seem to lose some of their sting.
Early in the ninth round Holyfield landed a big right hand that backed Lewis up. Then, he landed a double jab and left uppercut. He was beating Lewis to the punch and continued to work the body. Then, Lewis landed a right uppercut that rocked Holyfield. Holyfield stumbled as he returned to his corner following the round.
In the 12th round, Holyfield came out firing, perhaps believing he needed a knockout to win. He staggered Lewis with a big right hand, but Lewis wouldn’t go down. When the bell sounded to end the fight, Lewis raised his hands. Holyfield did not. He looked like he knew what was coming.
Lennox Lewis: “This was a little tougher than the first fight. I couldn’t let my fans down. I couldn’t let myself down, because this is my dream. I realize that he wasn’t doing nothing with me in the beginning. At times I was playing with him, because when I was jabbing he was coming in with his head. With all this on the line coming in, I knew I had to unify the belts.”
Evander Holyfield: “Of course, I was surprised. I was just fighting. I just fight and let the judges decide. Of course, I’m disappointed I didn’t get the decision. But life is life. I hit him with some shots, and I thought it would catch up to him. I didn’t get hurt with the jab. I was able to counter off his potshots. He was able to come back after I hit him with a couple of big shots. The big thing in life is you give it your all. When it falls into the judges’ hands, you have to live with their decision.”