by Fox Doucette
The ghost of Don LaFontaine would seem to haunt the Historical Fight Night arena tonight. In a world…where crowds are lulled to sleep by subpar boxing on TV…four men…with heavyweight power…will take the world…by storm. Coming in November to a theater near you, it’s…
That’s right, folks, we’ve got Muhammad Ali, taken from the Rumble in the Jungle, up against Lennox Lewis, fished from 2002 and his demolition of Mike Tyson in eight rounds. Ali’s never seen anything like this in his boxing life, a guy who stands 6’5”, weighs 250 pounds, has a seven foot reach, two inches taller and six inches longer than Ali himself.
In the co-feature, we’ve got Jerry Quarry, brought in from his one-round smashing of Earnie Shavers, against Trevor Berbick, who got brought in via…uh oh, this can’t be right…what were the time machine operators thinking? Who paid them off?!
Erm, folks, we’ve got Trevor Berbick, put into the time machine on November 22, 1986 from (gulp) his fight with Mike Tyson. So…yeah.
From the Historical Fight Night Arena Presented By You, If You Donate On Patreon, in San Dimas, California, these fights are scheduled for 12 rounds using the Unified Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Scoring is on the 10-point must system, there is no three knockdown rule, no standing eight count, only the referee can stop the fight, and a fighter cannot be saved by the bell in any round including the twelfth and final round.
Now, for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from around the world…
Let’s Make History.
Jerry Quarry (12/14/1973, 48-6-4, 29 KOs) vs. Trevor Berbick (11/22/1986, 31-5-1, 23 KOs)
Quarry was able to stop Earnie Shavers when he caught him clean with a left hook in the first round and never let up once he had his man hurt. Gil Clancy had Quarry completely prepared for the contest, which was part of Quarry’s last great run at a heavyweight title shot, which would be cut short by Joe Frazier six months later; but for the turn of history, it might have been Quarry and not Frazier who got the shot at Muhammad Ali that would become the Thrilla in Manila in 1975. As we always say around here, “the gods keep track.”
Berbick got caught by a left hook from Tyson in the first round that had him staggering around like a drunk for the rest of the two-round contest en route to a knockout. When the Temporal Commission, furious, asked the chief engineer of the time machine why in the world he’d go back to 1986, the only thing the chief could say was “I thought we were going back to get Tyson, and you know how much it costs to run this thing, so I just grabbed what was there.”
It didn’t take thirty seconds before Quarry unleashed the first big left hook of the fight, and Berbick, whose confidence was shot to hell after getting knocked out by that punch against Tyson, got wide-eyed. Quarry knew the man in front of him posed no threat, but he also didn’t want to take any chances. He pounded that left hook in there like a baseball closer throwing fastballs in the ninth, and things were getting ugly in a hurry.
Mind you, Jerry Quarry is not Mike Tyson, and single left hooks will only take you so far no matter how hard they land, but as the round went on, Quarry began to mix in the overhand right, which landed just as solidly and dropped Berbick with 53 seconds to go. Berbick beat the count, referee Arthur Mercante reached the count of eight, and for the rest of the round, it was Benny Hill Show stuff as Quarry chased Berbick around the ring until the bell sounded.
After the round break, Quarry came in, cut the ring down, and hit Berbick first with a left hook, then with a hook-right hand-uppercut combination, the last of which landed flush on the chin. Mercante could’ve counted to 100, and the fight was over. Your winner, and with a helluva reprimand to the time machine guy…
RESULT: QUARRY KO2 BERBICK.
Muhammad Ali (10/30/1974, 45-2, 32 KOs) vs. Lennox Lewis (6/8/2002, 40-2-1, 31 KOs)
We’ve got both guys fairly late in their career here. The 32-year-old Ali had just started to understand that his wisdom was going to be more important than his power, and he’d completely outsmarted George Foreman by using the rope-a-dope.
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Lewis had twice in his career been stopped when he got overconfident when he was ahead in a fight, once by Oliver McCall and once by Hasim Rahman (though in the latter case, Harold Lederman had the fight even at the time of the stoppage.) Lewis was bigger, he was longer, he was crafty and rangy and all the good things you expect from a guy his size; he would stop Vitali Klitschko on cuts in what would prove to be his last fight as a professional scarcely a year after the Tyson fight from which he’d entered the time machine (and unlike Trevor Berbick, the machine guys grabbed the right man.)
The question here was whether Lewis’s size and ability to control range would overcome Ali’s ability to force his opponent to fight the fight that Ali needed him to engage in so that he could then use his opponent’s strength against him.
Lewis came out throwing a lot of rangefinder jabs; Ali came out looking to catch and counter, lulling Lewis into a false sense of security. The problem Lewis always had was his great strength; a guy as long and rangy as Lewis was naturally took more time to throw a punch because of the sheer physics of distance to the target. Lewis wanted to stabilize Ali; the Greatest wanted to stick and move, float like a butterfly, fight this fight like Howard Cosell was still alive to call it.
For three rounds, the two men felt each other out, but neither man gained the upper hand.
Lewis finally started to find his range, and he started using the jab much more effectively as a decoy. When Ali went to weave inside it, Lewis caught him with a tight right uppercut that sent the great one back to the ropes.
Lewis looked for an opening, working the jab and the straight right but landing almost none of the shots, and when he was done punching, Ali fought back off the ropes, tagging Lewis with a couple of quick hooks and a straight right hand.
Still, Lewis was no fool, and he knew what had happened to George Foreman, so he backed off, reduced his punch volume, and the rest of the fourth plus the fifth returned to form, except Lewis was just a bit more effective inside. On the press row scorecard, Lewis had it either 48-47 or 49-46, depending on who you asked.
Lewis landed what was at best a glancing hook, which didn’t land cleanly at all, but Ali reacted like he’d been hit with a baseball bat. He mugged at Lewis in the universal boxing pose of “you hurt me but I’m going to laugh like you didn’t”, he covered up, and he went super-defensive the way a fighter does in survival mode. Lewis, interpreting the wounded-lion act as a sign that his foe was ripe for the kill, went to work…and Ali dropped to one knee to take the eight count from referee Richard Steele.
What happened next was an act of brilliance that awed the crowd, it awed the commentators, and it shock-and-awed Lennox Lewis.
Ali, still feigning having been badly hurt, sprung the trap, and when Lewis came in to throw a combination, Ali slipped two punches, blocked the third, and in that split second where Lewis took just a little too long to get back in position, Ali landed a left hook right on the chin.
Lewis staggered back, barely able to stay on his feet, his legs rendered spaghetti-like from the force of the blow. Ali, his prey having stepped right on the pressure plate in the middle of the bear trap, closed the jaws. Hook, cross, uppercut, chase and cut the ring down, never let up, press harder and harder…
…and when Ali at last appeared to have completed the sequence, he stepped back, and when Lewis tried to throw a counter right hand, Ali dodged the toothless blow and uncorked one more monster left hook that put Lennox Lewis down for the count.
George Foreman said of Ali that “he used the rope-a-dope, and I was the dope.” Lennox Lewis could no doubt relate after falling to the Greatest of All Time.
RESULT: ALI KO6 LEWIS.
What does a boxing writer do with a Thanksgiving in which he’ll have nothing but time on his hands to watch old fights and to write?
Work on a Black Friday Sale, of course! It’s the Black Friday “Pay Per View” (which, like all of these, will be free). So why call it a pay-per-view? We’ve got four, count ’em, FOUR big fights for you next week, and let’s face it, if someone with an actual time machine and an actual arena in San Dimas put this card up, you know damn well you’d pay 60 bucks to watch it.
The main event: Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Your co-feature? Alexis Arguello vs. Roberto Duran, at lightweight.
Also including: Meldrick Taylor vs. Ricky Hatton
And opening the show: Bob Foster vs. Michael Spinks, at light heavyweight.
So go do your Black Friday shopping in the obscene hours overnight. Follow it up with a morning and early afternoon nap. Wake up at 6 PM Eastern, 3 PM Pacific, and point your browser directly at The Boxing Tribune for the first-ever Historical Fight Night Pay-Per-View Spectacular.
See you next week, and thanks for reading!