You may not need convincing in the slightest, but Dillian Whyte has been singing Lennox Lewis’ praises, telling Sky Sports that the last undisputed heavyweight champion is the greatest heavyweight British boxing has ever produced.
Some fans, not too many but a few, might feel Tyson Fury deserves the distinction (Fury himself certainly feels he does), while even fewer fans think Anthony Joshua is the man.
It’s unfair to rank a fighter’s overall greatness until he is retired, so we have to wait and see whether or not Fury or Joshua can surpass Lewis in this department. But Whyte is a huge fan and admirer of Lewis, and he explained the reasons why when speaking with Sky Sports.
There was, Whyte says, “a period in time when no-one could touch him.”
“Lennox Lewis. Just the people he fought, the people he beat,” Whyte said when explaining why Lewis is THE man in terms of British heavyweight boxing. “He came back from his two defeats and won both the rematches and how long he reigned. There was a period in time when no one could touch him.
He was destroying dangerous guys. Destroying them in seconds. Just the way he fought, his fighting style and aggression. He destroyed Andrew Golota, Michael Grant, and Razor Ruddock; came from behind to beat Frank Bruno and Vitali Klitschko; beating Gary Mason, Oliver McCall, David Tua, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Tommy Morrison, and Zeljko Mavrovic. The list goes on and on.”
Indeed it does, and Whyte left out guys such as Ray Mercer (this one of Lewis’ toughest fights but one in which he showed a great chin and unquenchable desire to win the ten-round slugfest) and Tony Tucker.
Looking back now, Lewis really does have an awesome resume. All-time greats (Holyfield, Tyson) lethal punchers (Tua, Ruddock, and Morrison), fine boxers (Tucker), and iron-chinned warriors (Mercer, Holyfield, Tua, Klitschko) were all beaten by Lewis and of course, as Whyte says, Lennox avenged his two losses, meaning he defeated every man he ever faced.
It’s clear Fury (two great wins, one over Wladimir Klitschko, one over Deontay Wilder) and Joshua (one great win, over Wladimir Klitschko) have a whole lot of work to do if they are ever going to match Lewis’ accomplishments, let alone top them.
And to think, there were plenty of critics who said Lewis wasn’t all that back when he was fighting. It sure took Lennox a long time to win these people over. Lewis avoided nobody (aside from, his remaining critics say, Vitali, in a return fight that should have happened, maybe; Lewis at the end of his career at the time of the 2003 win over Vitali and being smart enough to know he was past his best) and he won all the belts. Lewis is a classic example of why we cannot possibly rank a fighter at all accurately until AFTER he’s retired.
It might be that no British heavyweight tops what Lewis achieved. Even excellent fighters like Fury and Joshua.
As for Whyte, he may be looking at tapes of how Lewis was able to avenge his stoppage losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, and taking inspiration as he heads into his must-win rematch with Alexander Povetkin. Whyte might never be recognized as a great, but if he can get revenge over Povetkin he will be back on track for a shot at a world title. Lewis, as special as he was, had no less than 18 world heavyweight title fights during his career. Lennox not only ranks as the greatest British heavyweight ever, but he also ranks in everyone’s Top-10 greatest heavyweights of all-time, period. Some have Lewis Top-5.
We never knew how good we had it when Lewis was at the top of his game.