NEW YORK -- Lennox Lewis quickly hit on a formula for success against Michael Grant.
''Every time I hit him he went down, so I just kept hitting him,'' the heavyweight champion said after knocking down Grant three times in the first round and knocking him out in the second Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
After his crushing defeat, his first in 32 fights, Grant said his future ''ain't over til it's over.''
It became apparent to the crowd of 17,324 in the first round that the 27-year-old Grant's title bid wasn't going to last very long.
Grant came charging out at the opening bell intent on taking the fight to Lewis. By the time the bell rang ending the round, Grant had been down three times.
''I was surprised when he came at me,'' the 34-year-old Lewis said. ''I realized that I had superior hand speed. I could see when he was winding up. I just held my position so I could get a good shot.''
Referring to his decision to jump on Lewis, Grant said: ''It was stupidity on my part.''
The fight ended at 2:53 of the second round after Grant went down from a thunderous right uppercut that put him on his back. He did his best to fight his way out of a fog and get to his feet, but he couldn't beat referee Arthur Mercante's count of 10.
''Styles make fights and I don't get paid for overtime,'' said Lewis, who had been criticized for being too cautious and lackadaisical.
''I just come to conquer,'' said Lewis, who earned the right to be called the world's premier heavyweight.
Next, Lewis is expected to fight Francois Botha on July 15 in London and then could fight David Tua in November. The fight the champion from Britain really would like would be against Mike Tyson.
The first knockdown Saturday night came when the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Lewis dropped the 6-7, 250-pound Grant with a right to the head with 1:22 remaining in the first round. Grant struggled up at 6, took an 8-count and then was sent reeling into a neutral corner from a flurry of punches.
Because the ring post and the ropes held up Grant, Mercante ruled it a knockdown and gave him an 8-count. Grant was trying to come back on wobbly legs and it appeared he might escape further damage, when a short left and big right to the head dropped him again with 20 seconds remaining. He struggled up at 7 and then the bell rang.
The bell could not save Grant this time as it did when he was knocked down twice in the first round against Andrew Golota in his previous fight, a fight which he rallied to win by stopping Golota in the 10th.
A CompuBox punch analysis credited Lewis with landing 47 of 80 punches and Grant 22 of 47. Of Lewis' connections, 34 were power punches.
''I was just too anxious,'' said Grant, whose record is 30-1-1 with 22 knockouts. ''People were looking for me to bring this home and I just didn't execute this thing.''
Although Lewis had become the WBA, WBC and IBF champion by beating Evander Holyfield in their rematch, only the WBC and IBF titles were at stake on Saturday.
A federal judge ruled Lewis must give up the WBA title because he breached a contract with Don King by signing to fight Grant rather that make a mandatory WBA title defense.
Anybody who watched Lewis' performance against Grant knows who the real heavyweight champion is now.
The combined weight of 497 pounds made it the heaviest title fight ever, surpassing the 488 3/4 when Primo Carnera (259 1/2) outpointed Paulino Uzcudun (229 1/4) on Oct. 22, 1933.
Grant would have become the tallest heavyweight champion, but Lewis made short work of that. The tallest champion was 6-6 1/4 Jess Willard, who reigned from 1915-1919.
Lewis, who was guaranteed $10 million to $4 million for Grant, is now 36-1-1 with 28 knockouts.
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