Grant lost bout with frontal attack

Challenger played into Lewis' hands

May 01, 2000|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Picture a bully's outstretched hand on the forehead of a frustrated younger kid, who, in his blind rage at being so teasingly close to his target, grows more frustrated as he presses forward, flailing.

Now, imagine the tormentor brutally hammering the youngster.

That image is not dissimilar to the way Saturday night's Lennox Lewis-Michael Grant heavyweight title bout transpired.

Lewis (36-1-1) defended his World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation crowns by making Grant his personal whipping boy, scoring his 28th career knockout in devastating fashion in the second round before 17,324 at Madison Square Garden.

Lewis, 34, earned $10 million for his victory and Grant $4 million.

Lewis' 20 years of boxing experience, including an Olympic championship, dwarfed that of 6-foot-7, 250-pound Grant (31-2, 22 knockouts), who was exposed as only a fifth-year pro -- perhaps over-hyped, but with an infinite amount of heart.

That chasm of experience was evident in Lewis' willingness -- to the point of recklessness -- to inflict violence upon his foe.

On two occasions, Lewis even fouled Grant, holding the challenger's head with his left and driving home the right hand. But referee Arthur Mercante Jr. apparently did not see the infractions.

Others have gotten away with worse, however. And in the end, the 6-5, 247-pound, tea-sipping, chess-playing Englishman finally had given the American public the viciousness it was asking him for.

"I said it would be a short fight if he came at me. I just come to conquer. Any guy that steps in front of me gets knocked out, straight away," said Lewis, who dropped the challenger three times in all.

Only the ropes, late in the first round, prevented Grant from going down a fourth time when Lewis had sent him there after chasing him halfway across the ring with a series of right-hand leads.

Grant, his head down in an effort to avoid Lewis' powerful overhand right, simply ran into right uppercuts, seemingly doubling the power of their delivery.

So, Lewis abandoned his reputation of being a safety-first fighter, took risks at close range and let himself go.

"I realized that I was doing my job because he kept on putting his head down," Lewis said. "Most of the time, I saw when he was winding up. I realized that I had more superior hand speed, because he has never seen a boxer like me."

The champ landed as many punches (47) as Grant was able to throw, missing several, but landing about 35 power shots. Lewis sandwiched two of three knockdowns around a first-round, standing-eight count.

The fighters came out throwing bombs in the first round, with Grant driving Lewis backward with two punches, missing wildly with two others and landing a jab.

But Lewis found his mark with a right uppercut to the body, followed by a chopping right to the head that dropped Grant with 1: 23 left in the round.

"Lennox dropped his hands, like he was saying, `Come on, come after my head right now.' It was a smart move because I was trying to take his head off," Grant said.

"It was stupidity on my part. I was just too anxious. I just got caught with a shot -- one of those equilibrium shots -- and it stunned me for the rest of the knockdowns he had."

Up with 1: 17 remaining, Grant was driven backward into the ropes with several right hands as Mercante delivered a standing-eight.

Another right hand planted Grant on his back 10 seconds before the end of the first round, and the 27-year-old's ability to get up surprised even Lewis' trainer, Emmanuel Steward.

"I was surprised at his heart, particularly after the last knockdown in the first round," Steward said. "I can't believe he got up from that one."

Late in the second round, Lewis landed about 11 consecutive punches, half of which were uppercuts, before finishing Grant with a savage right uppercut that again put him flat on his back.

Like an overturned tortoise, Grant struggled to beat Mercante's 10-count. This time, however, he was counted out seven seconds before the round ended.

"I say styles make fights," said Lewis, who next plans to fight South Africa's Frans Botha in London on July 15, followed by a mandatory defense against IBF No. 1 contender David Tua in the fall.

"Michael Grant was the perfect style for me to showcase my talents."

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