“The Black Beast” didn’t have an easy night, however, as Ilir Latifi gave him everything he could handle over three rounds before earning the unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Lewis, who immediately jumped on top of the cage to celebrate with the Houston crowd.
“I guess that boy got a chin,” Lewis said about Latifi afterwards. “I just appreciate everybody coming out. Thanks for the support.”
There was little doubt that Latifi wanted to slow the action down and stay away from the immense power coming from Lewis but he nearly got his head taken off a couple of times in the opening round.
Lewis launched a pair of flying knees as well as a lightning quick kick that rocketed up towards Latifi’s head. While he managed to block it, Latifi still felt the impact as the sound of Lewis’ shin and foot slamming into his arm reverberated throughout the arena.
In an effort to avoid the nuclear bombs being launched at him, Latifi altered his game plan by attacking Lewis’ legs with kicks and then looking for the takedown. While he managed to drag Lewis down to the mat a couple of times, Latifi wasn’t ultra-busy, although he was likely racking up points with the judges.
As time ticked away, Latifi stuck with that same strategy by dumping Lewis on the ground and peppering him with punches from top. Latifi desperately tried to keep the fight on the mat but Lewis eventually worked his way free and made the most of the opportunity to throw punches in the closing seconds of the final round.
Lewis came after Latifi with everything remaining in his arsenal while trying to secure the finish but he couldn’t quite land the knockout blow. That final flurry is likely what helped Lewis secure the victory as he got the nod by decision
The former title contender has now won back-to-back fights as he looks to continue his climb up the ranks while Latifi suffers his third loss in a row and first in the heavyweight division.