Lawrence got rocked, but ready to roll again
He actually thought he won the fight. Nothing could have been further from the truth on Feb. 25, 2006. Zuri Lawrence was knocked out cold that night. Ice cold, blacked out.
"I heard the clap for the last 10 seconds of the round and I thought I'd just get out of here looking nice," said the heavyweight veteran of 35 fights. "The next thing I know, I'm in an ambulance."
What Lawrence (20-11-4, 0 KOs) doesn't remember is lying motionless for several minutes. Nor does he remember what caused it all. He can't recall being leveled by a Calvin Brock left hook. He's the only one who doesn't remember it. For the ringside experts looking on, it was a moment that will forever be burned into their memory.
"Within moments, it was the best and worst of boxing," MaxBoxing.com columnist Steve Kim quickly pointed out. "Everyone lost their breath for a second. We really didn't exhale until he gained his consciousness back."
Marc Ratner, Nevada's main man overseeing each fighter's safety, also was immediately concerned, "My first worry was Zuri. I knew that there better not be any counting going on, and there better be doctors running in there right away."
To hear these quotes, you would think Lawrence was at the wrong end of a .45 magnum, not a 10-ounce glove. The sweet science isn't all about hit and don't get hit, counterpunches and distance. Sometimes, the scientific achievements of a fistic lab worker produces pure power. Such was the case for Brock.
"The hardest punches don't always feel that hard. I knew my form was perfect when I was throwing the left hook," Brock explained. "The punch felt sweet and fast. It went right through him. I didn't feel much impact."
Lawrence sure did. In fact, that impact was so intense that by all eyewitness accounts, Lawrence entered unconsciousness before he even started to fall.
"I thought he had died," ESPN.com's Dan Rafael said with stone-cold seriousness. "I'm not even exaggerating. It was totally out of the blue. It was boom! He fell in slow motion. What made me think, 'Oh my God, I think he's dead' was that before he was on the floor, referee Jay Nady was not just stopping the fight, but motioning for medical personnel."
It was ESPN.com's knockout of the year, as well as Ring magazine's.
Why are we so concerned with a catastrophic knockout that happened nearly a year ago? Because it was the kind of KO that ends careers, yet Lawrence is returning to the ring this week.
He is in the "Friday Night Fights" main event against Dominick Guinn (9 p.m ET, ESPN2). The former title-contending Guinn (27-4-1, 18 KOs) is trying to once again get his career on track. Zuri says he is trying to do the same: "I need this one bad; it's almost been a year."
It was last January when Lawrence had things going his way. A journeyman who had been in against good talent like Sultan Ibragimov and Tony Thompson, Lawrence was now coming off his best career win -- a unanimous decision over world title challenger Jameel McCline on Oct. 21, 2005.
Then came that moment four months later, two minutes and 58 seconds into the sixth round of a nondescript fight against Brock. Zuri Lawrence can't tell you anything about what happened thereafter.
"How did I get my clothes on? I didn't put them on," he said to his girlfriend in the ambulance ride from the arena to a Vegas hospital.
"Yes, you did," she said, looking at Lawrence with disbelief.
"But I won the fight. Why am I here?" Zuri incredulously questioned.
"You were KO'd," she said.
"No I wasn't," he argued.
His guide to reality couldn't take any more. "If you didn't get KO'd, then do you remember them announcing you as the winner?"
It all clicked for Zuri. He had been out cold for a long time. But he did have one more question.
"Did it look bad?"
We all know that answer. The more important question is, will it look bad this week? Can he take another big shot?
"I honestly don't think he will be able to," Brock thoughtfully replied. "I just hope he doesn't get hurt."
Let's put this in perspective. Ratner, the former executive director of the Nevada commission, can't think of a more devastating one-punch KO. Rafael thought Zuri was dead. Kim lost his breath. And the guy who landed the punch supports Zuri's return but thinks Guinn will KO him.
So what in the world is Zuri Lawrence thinking going back through the ropes?
"I've been doing this long enough," he said. "I don't think about stuff like that anymore."
I suppose that's why he's a fighter, and we're fight fans.
Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
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