Lennox Lewis - Vitali Klitschko: Lewis Was the One Robbed

21.06.06 - By Troy Ondrizek: Lennox Lewis last fought in the ring three years ago today. Lewis’ battle with Vitali Klitschko was a great fight that saw both men control the action, and both made bold statements with their fist that the whole boxing world heard. Vitali brought the fight to the champ early and never relented, Lewis seemed to be unprepared for the awkward and strong Ukrainian. Lewis soon got into a rhythm and started to time Klitschko’s advances. However, as most of us all know Lennox opened up Vitali’s eye in such a grotesque manner, that for many viewers it was the first time anyone has ever seen a traumatic injury.

At the time of the stoppage, Klitschko was ahead 4 rounds to 2 on every judge’s scorecard, but Lewis was starting to come on strong. The results of Vitali’s heart and how he was ahead has been the center of great debate for the past three years. Lewis promised Klitschko a rematch, but never delivered. Vitali fans have been adamant that Vitali would’ve won the fight had it continued, and Lewis fans said Vitali was lucky that his eye was falling out of the orbit, or Vitali would’ve been kayoed in just a couple of rounds. Regardless of where your opinion lies on the outcome of the bout, one thing for sure is that, Lennox Lewis and not Vitali Klitschko was robbed of his rightful glory following that match.

No doubt Vitali Klitschko fought with guts and glory, and laid it all on the line in what was the premiere fight of his career. I’m not arguing about Vitali’s early dominance in the bout, in which he had the overweight and overconfident champion in trouble and running. I do feel though that Klitschko was in grave danger of leaving minus an eye and unconscious had the fight continued, but we will never know. I was calling for a rematch, and I thought it was a great six rounds of action and that a rematch was indeed warranted. Now since this is all about my feelings, I also felt Lewis would’ve come back in greater shape and with a superb tactical plan that would’ve bored the hell out of us and he would’ve gone out quietly a champion, but a champion nonetheless.

It is funny how even in victory, granted a bit tainted, Lewis still hasn’t gotten full respect. Vitali accomplished more in defeat than Lennox did in victory. In fact this loss on Vitali’s record was more impressive than any of his victories and his legacy will always be linked to having his face resemble a roadside carcass. That my friends is another argument for another time. Let’s focus now; Lennox rightfully went out on his own terms and on top where a champion of his pedigree should. As fans, we might not be satisfied to see arguably the greatest heavyweight of his era go out in controversy. But would you prefer he go out losing every round to Larry Holmes and get stomped by Trevor Berbick; or how about a five round draw with the legendary Floyd Cummings; maybe even several comeback fights ending with a victory over Butterbean; or even in Evander Holyfield’s case, still trying to fight years past his prime and unable to defeat even mediocre fighters. Lewis left on better terms than many of his contemporaries, and fans can’t respect that.

Vitali would go on to leave us even emptier inside when he retired last November, and Vitali never truly capitalized on his new found glory following the Lewis loss. Klitschko’s biggest fight after he battled Lewis was Corrie Sanders, and that speaks volumes about his legacy. Lennox was a great champion and since his departure from our sport, he has left a void that no other man has been capable of filling. We as fans are still searching for his replacement, we have put our hopes in Lamon Brewster and have been treated to great fights, but Brewster isn’t the man. Some put their hopes and dreams into Samuel Peter only to see that he needs to take some remedial boxing classes before he could ever to reach his potential. Right now our best bet is Wladimir Klitschko, who even before his brother Vitali, was destined to be the chosen successor to Lewis’ crown. But Wladimir was derailed by the aforementioned Corrie Sanders. It has been three years since that moment for Wladimir, and he is just now back on track.

As time goes by, we appreciate Lewis more and more, because not many appreciated him while he reigned supreme over the landscape of the behemoths. I will state that even now Lewis is doing better in retirement than Vitali. We see Lennox once a month now giving commentary opposite Jim Lampley for HBO, and Vitali has recently lost a mayoral bid in his hometown of Ukraine. Lewis’ nest-egg is considerably larger than Vitali’s, so we don’t know exactly what to expect from Dr. Ironfist in the future, but we will see Klitschko soon. As for Lewis, we are still searching for another Lennox, until then, we can just sit back and enjoy tapes of his fights, and hope that Liakhovich or Wladimir can duplicate some of what Lennox accomplished. Until then, a man can dream can’t he?

Article posted on 22.06.2006

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