On this day: Lennox Lewis beats Andrew Golota in first round

On this day in 1997, Lennox Lewis detroys Andrew Golota to retain the WBC heavyweight title.

World heavyweight champions can often be defined by one big fight or a major knockout. There have been plenty who have held their title for one fight only. Not Lennox Lewis. The British fighter held the WBC belt on a number of occasions, the first of which followed Riddick Bowe's bizarre relinquishment of the title.

By the time the fight came around against Andrew Golota on this day in 1997, Lewis was thought to be the best heavyweight boxer in the world. He had lost his title in 1994 to Oliver McCall in what went down as a huge upset, but after switching to his opponent's trainer Emanuel Steward regained his belt in February 1997. It was another strange act towards Lewis, as McCall cried in the ring before being forced to concede his title.

Golota was not initially meant to have the opportunity to face Lewis. He was not the number one contender and his opponent in the fight that was to decide who got the shot, Ray Mercer, withdrew through injury. It gave Golota an unexpected shot at the WBC title and Lewis a fight against a boxer expected to give him a close contest - which was what the Brit had required after the McCall rematch and a one-sided contests against Henry Akinwande.

British boxer Lennox Lewis squares up to Poland's Andrew Golota following their weigh-in in Atlantic City on October 2, 1997© Getty Images

In the end, that proved to be emphatically not the case. Golota was a controversial fighter and his shot at Lewis's title had come after two consecutive defeats to Bowe. Fights that, despite being ahead on points at the time, saw him disqualified for repeated low blow. Golota had this unexpected streak and Lewis's aim before they met on October 4, 1997 was to stop him "before he could commit any fouls".

And he did. The fight was one-sided from the off as Lewis set about ending it early. At the time the pair were thought to be two of the top heavyweights of the world, but Lewis's left jab and movement was almost instantly too much for the Polish fighter. As Golota was battling to land hits of his own he was caught with a big left-right combination that sent him sprawling into the corner and was the last time he saw the middle of the ring.

Golota's defence dropped and Lewis immediately capitalised with another two or three big right hands, the last of which knocked the Pole off his feet. When he got up he was all over the place but was surprisingly allowed to continue. When it restarted, there was more punishment from Lewis. Sensing the end of the fight the Brit opened up a few more combinations before the referee stopped the fight as Golota went down a second time.

It had lasted just 95 seconds and Lewis had comprehensively defended his WBC heavyweight title. It was revealed afterwards that in the locker room just minutes prior to the knockout, Golota suffered a seizure which caused his heart to stop for 30 seconds. He recovered, but blamed the incident and the loss of the fight on his physician, who had given him an injection of lidocaine for knee tendonitis.

Lewis went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in 1999 after a rematch against Evander Holyfield, after their initial fight was controversially called a draw. The Brit retired in February 2004 with a record of 41 wins, two defeats and a draw, having seen off the biggest challengers of the day in Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko.

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