It was to be called “The Fight For The Right”. An eliminator for the WBC portion of the World Heavyweight Championship.
In 1992, the heavyweight division was full of prospects all worthy of a shot at the richest prize in sport. You had the likes of Tommy Morrison, Bruce Seldon, Ray Mercer and Michael Moorer
Morrison and Mercer, the year before, had met in a WBO title match up. Morrison was brutally KO'd in the fifth and in his comeback had struggled to beat Joe Hipp.
Mercer, following this victory, would be schooled by veteran great Larry Holmes over 12 rounds. Moorer, although unbeaten, was at least another year away from being potential World Heavyweight title contender.
Seldon was regrouping his career after back to back defeats and Moorer, moving up from Light Heavyweight, had a war with former title challenger Bert Cooper before winning in the fifth.
The top four by the fall of 1992 were Evander Holyfield, Razor Ruddock, Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis.
Holyfield was the champion at this time and had made three successful defences of the crown. Bowe was his number one challenger and like Holyfield, was unbeaten. They would meet for the undisputed title in Las Vegas on November 13.
Two weeks earlier on Halloween night in London, Ruddock, recognised as the World's Best Heavyweight following his two tough losses to a now incarcerated Mike Tyson would meet Lewis, who had beaten the best Europe and Britain had to offer. Lewis had also an impressive win over former contender Tyrell Biggs.
Lewis and Ruddock had known each other well from their days back in Canada. They had also been ringside for each other's fights. The winner of this match up would meet whoever the undisputed champion was in 1993.
Many experts had predicted that Ruddock would be Lewis' toughest test as a professional. Many even thought Ruddock would win. He had, after all, given Tyson two tough bouts. He had also brutally KO'd former champion Michael Dokes.
On the night though Lewis, although not the finished article, fought the perfect fight; boxing and moving. Near the close of the opening round, Ruddock attempted a left jab to Lewis' body. This was the opening the Briton wanted and Ruddock was felled with a chopping right hand
The second round saw Ruddock attack in desperation at Lewis. Lewis countered with a fast and damaging attack. If the first knock down had been grazing, this one certainly wasn’t.
Ruddock was in desperate trouble. After avoiding a wild Ruddock uppercut, Lewis settled the argument with a powerful combination, winning him the right to fight for the title.
Ruddock was never really the same after this fight. Three years later he would lose an enjoyable slugfest with Tommy Morrison and would never be considered for world honours. He did, however, win the Canadian Heavyweight title before his retirement.
Two weeks after “The Fight For The Right”, Riddick Bowe would be crowned new World Heavyweight Champion after a classic twelve rounder with the brave Evander Holyfield. Lewis was ringside in Vegas to see this for himself and the two former amateur rivals had a staredown and verbals.
The fight would never materialise with Bowe dropping the WBC title into a trash can the following month. Lewis was, although by default, the first British World Heavyweight Champion in 95 years.
The next decade would see Lewis dominate the division, taking on all comers and although he lost the title twice, both defeats were avenged cementing his legacy as one of our finest World Champions ever.