Resurrecting Lennox Lewis (and other random thoughts)

10.06.04 - By Lee Hayes: I just finished watching back to back, replays of Lennox Lewis vs. Shannon Briggs and I have some observations about boxing that I’d like to share:

1) Sometimes a fighter’s prime is incredibly short. I never much liked Briggs. He just irked me the wrong way. I had watched and HBO special on the seedier side of boxing. They showcased Briggs and his manager, I do not recall absolutely if it was Mike Marley, back then, but I think so. It was just so crooked. I couldn't stand it. Still, this fight I had just finished watching, with Briggs against Lennox Lewis, really impressed me. To look at the shape Shannon was in for that fight, it was very impressive. Never had he -or would he- look that good again. He threw great combinations, showing excellent hand speed. His arsenal contained an effective straight, short right hand to the body and his signature, lightning fast left hook to the head. He boxed well.

He slugged when he had to, or just plain wanted to test Lewis’s chin. He tried his damnedest to KO Lewis when he had him hurt. He got rocked, but it was by a prime Lewis, who was an impressive spectacle during his peak years. But incredibly, he never gave up. Whenever Lewis would hurt him, or eventually knock him down, he'd come back with some serious power shots or combinations, to let Lennox know "I ain't goin' nowhere Lennox". He showed enormous heart coming back from everything Lewis had to throw. Which is impressive because I think a few of the right hands that Lennox threw, during the fight, were some of the hardest blows he’d ever delivered on a man. He took some serious monster shots. Shannon absorbed more punishment than Mike Tyson took, in his pain absorbing date with the big Brit. He just happened to be up against an all time great heavyweight in his prime, named Lennox Lewis, that night. That performance would have been enough to beat a lot of other very good heavyweights.

I just truly believe this fight, those five action packed rounds. They signified Shannon Briggs entire prime. It's not unheard of. Riddick Bowe comes to mind as I have always maintained that Riddick’s prime began during round one against Evander Holyfield, and finished at the closing of round twelve. The familiar story of an up and coming boxer that gets a defining fight and does his best to pull it out. He reaches his pinnacle on that night, but it could only last for one fight, like Riddick Bowe. It may be just one year. Or even, perhaps, five rounds, like in the case of Briggs.

2). Another thought:

I love the way Frank Cappuccino refs a fight. He never jumps in early with a stoppage, unless it's a resident tomato can against someone very good. He lets a man have a chance to comeback, unless it's obvious he can't. Don't get me wrong, I don't like seeing fighters get hurt in the ring, but lets face it: We'll never see a Marciano vs. Walcott I, never again in our lifetimes. Cappuccino was the ref responsible for the first Arturo Gatti vs. Mickey Ward bout, the most exciting of the great-thrilogy.

3) Finally. I already miss Lennox Lewis. I can't help it. He's been the most successful heavyweight of my generation, and for that, he's special to me. He fought so many good fighters. The quality of his opposition is vastly downplayed. He took on as good of a roster of opponents as any heavyweight champion of any era. He took on his key contemporaries, in Evander Holyfield & Mike Tyson, and showed superiority with relative ease. He was also dodged, by a few of the B+ level fighters during his prime. The Michael Moorer and Riddick Bowe’s. He also took on a huge list of B to B + level boxers like Gary Mason, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, Tony Tucker, Frank Bruno, Tommy Morrison, Ray Mercer, Andrew Golota, Shannon Briggs, Michael Grant and Frans Botha. He even managed to take on a few of the heir apparent hopefuls of the next generation, in David Tua, Hassim Rahman and Michael Grant. He ended his notable career with a desperate, come from behind, thrilling victory, over the newest heir to the throne, Vitali Klistchko. He looked vulnerable in his final bout. So I’m glad he retired. I it’s not that I wish he’d continue fighting. I just wish I had a time machine, to bring him back in his prime, to take care of business in this chaotic king of division.

Anyway, those were my thoughts.

This writer welcomes your suggestions and/or comments:

Article posted on 10.06.2004

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