Former Heavyweight boxer Justin Fortune recalls his memories about competing against all-time great Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Fortune fought Lewis on July 2, 1995 in Dublin, Ireland – losing by 4th round TKO. For Lewis, it was his second comeback fight following his first loss – the second-round KO defeat to Oliver McCall. Before boxing Justin, Lewis defeated Lionel Butler in a WBC Eliminator in May of ’95.
Here’s more from Justin Fortune about the experience of actually competing against Lennox Lewis:
Scoop Malinowski: What memories do you have of fighting Lennox Lewis?
Justin Fortune: “Getting screwed by the referee [laughs]. He just called the fight for no reason. I got caught with an uppercut and the uppercut barely hurt me anyway, and he just stopped the fight. No standing-eight, just stopped the fight. It was the same referee from Eubank and Watson and Benn and McClellan. So he was on (inaudible), if he f***** up again, they’d pull his license.”
Scoop: You thought Lennox Lewis was getting tired?
Justin Fortune: “I know he was getting tired. I could hear him breathing on top of me. He was getting tired for sure. Not that I would’ve won – I probably wouldn’t have won – I only had 14 fights (11-2-1) at the time. But I was definitely going the distance. And he definitely wouldn’t have stopped me. Because I walked right through his best shots. As you get tired, your shots become less and less intense.”
Scoop: How big of a puncher was Lewis?
Justin Fortune: “Good puncher. But I’ve been hit a lot harder [laughs]. (By who?) Dennis Andries hit me once, like a mother******! That son of a ***** could punch! And that was at cruiserweight. And that was sparring. F***, he hit me so hard – 16 oz. gloves with headgear. It sent tingles down my toes. I was like, F***! Gave me a whole new respect for him. Maybe because Lennox was so tall, and I’m so short (about 5-10), you lose a good 15-20% power punching down – which no one really pays any consideration. If I was 6-2 and he hit me with the same shot, it would have iced me for sure. Cuz he could crack. But lucky I’m not (6-2).”
Scoop: What else stands out about being Inside the ring and competing with Lewis? What made his style so effective?
Justin Fortune: “It’s hard to hit someone 6-6, especially when you’re only 5-9 1/2. I killed his body. I tried to hit him in the head and he’d put his hand out and lean back and I was like, F***** hell, like swingin’ at air. He saw me as no threat whatsoever. It was like my 14th fight, he was 26-1. His attitude was like, Come in, knock him out and go home.”
Scoop: What kind of a guy was Lennox to you, before and after the fight?
Justin Fortune: “Nice guy. He was nice to me, and respectful. He was a nice guy, so I can’t say nothing wrong about him. I like him as a fighter.”
Scoop: Do you consider Lennox Lewis one of the heavyweight greats?
Justin Fortune: “Yeah. You’ve got to put him down as one of the greats. You have to. For what he achieved. He got beaten, came back and beat the guys that beat him. Stopped them. So yeah, he should go down as one of the greats.”
Note: Justin Fortune retired from boxing with a final record of 15-8-2 (9 KOs). His last fight was a TKO 3 loss to Kali Meehan in September of 2001. He was born on December 21, 1965 in Australia and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he operates a boxing gym.