Wladimir Klitschko was in the ring 69 times during his professional career. The ex-world champion finally climbed the ropes 64 times as the winner. The Ukrainian suffered the most dubious of his five defeats on April 10, 2004 against the American Lamon Brewster. To this day it is not certain that everything went right that evening in Las Vegas.
The signs before the duel in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino for the vacant WBO title were clear: On the one hand there was Wladimir Klitschko, a 28-year-old Ukrainian who (apparently) was in full possession of his strength and boxing skills for the next attempt at the Boxing throne started. Lamon Brewster was waiting in the other corner, a very successful but technically limited fighter, who won 29 of his 31 professional fights before the duel against Klitschko, but often only got “falling fruit” in front of his fists.
The spectators in Vegas and in front of the TV screens accordingly prepared themselves for a short fight. And Klitschko did everything in the first laps to live up to his role as favourite. “Dr. Steelhammer” let his fists fly and covered his overwhelmed opponent with crashing jabs, powerful hooks and precise straights.
45:5 hit after two rounds
After the second round, Brewster’s corner pleaded with the hopelessly inferior outsider: “You can’t let him hit, you have to go forward, attack him.” The underdog could not implement the specifications. Up to this point, Klitschko alone had landed 45 jabs, while Brewster had only landed five at all.
In the fourth round, the inevitable finally happened: Within seconds, two right hammers from Klitschko slammed into Brewster’s chin. Referee Robert Byrd’s count lasted until eight – then Brewster stood again. Klitschko kept putting the pressure on his faltering opponent, but Brewster held on for dear life and somehow made it into the next break.
After a short palpation at the beginning of the fifth round, Klitschko scored three, four, five powerful hits in a row. The end of the fight now seemed only a matter of time. But the Ukrainian didn’t follow suit and gave his opponent time to breathe. Brewster took advantage of the break and counterattacked with 50 seconds left in the round.
Two left hooks, a straight and another left hook hit Klitschko’s chin out of the blue. The Ukrainian stumbled into the corner with Brewster chasing him and continuing his batting streak. The spectators jumped up and turned the hall into a madhouse out of sheer excitement. “If Klitschko gets knocked out by Lamon Brewster he should stop boxing,” the US commentators roared euphorically into their microphones.
Although Klitschko saved himself until the bell rang, the badly injured favorite went down when the bell rang. Byrd spoke to Klitschko, but he didn’t respond. The referee was forced to stop the fight immediately. “I wanted an answer from him, but nothing came. That way I didn’t have to stop a fight in my entire career,” Byrd later explained.
Wladimir Klitschko looked bad after the fifth round
Blood and urine sample mysteriously disappeared
Anyone who would have thought that the gong at the end of the fifth round should also mean the end of the fight was wrong. About a month later, Klitschko announced through a lawyer that the defeat would be investigated by the authorities. The reason: After the fight, both the urine and blood samples from Klitschko mysteriously disappeared. The why and whereto is still unclear to this day.
In line with this, there were some unusual developments on the betting market: The odds for a Brewster win that Saturday fell from 11:1 to 3.5:1 – a clear sign that someone or several bettors had a large amount of money on one win of the underdog. All coincidence?
Klitschko himself said after the fight that after the second round he felt “drugged” and had “legs like rubber”. Speculation as to whether Klitschko was drugged, poisoned or actually drugged that night persists to this day. Other wild conspiracy theories include the Russian mafia, bribery by promoter legend Don King and Klitschko’s diabetes, which is said to have had a negative impact on the fight.
What ultimately led to Wladimir Klitschko giving up a secure victory and having to admit defeat to an opponent whom he dismantled in the rematch three years later (dropped out in the sixth round) will probably remain a secret forever.
Wladimir Klitschko sits in his ring corner after the knockout defeat