The Logic Of A Lennox Lewis Return

26.02.07 – By Scoop Malinowski: Rumors and talk of a Lennox Lewis boxing comeback have hit the boxing world like a meteor. This is a spectacular development. Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, who broke the story or rumor or whatever you want to call it, was according to one insider, a trusted ally of the Lennox camp during his reign. And it just does not make any sense that Powell, a respected veteran journalist, would spread a 100% false, fantasy without some kind of grain of truth, or some kind of an intent..

If Lewis has actually decided to fight Vitali again, it’s understandable why he would not say anything official now about a comeback until after Vitali beats Oleg Maskaev, right? Because Vitali vs. Lennox is an optimum mega boxing event only if Vitali is the WBC champion.

A seed has been planted though. And it’s most certainly already germinating. Just like the then-retired Vitali planted the seed in November when (before his brother’s fight with Brock) he told the world he was staying retired, and “IF I make my comeback”, it will be announced later. LOL.

The denial by Lewis the other day sounds similarly cryptic as Vitali’s: “I have no plans to return…I’m a man of my word – I will remain retired.”

“No plans now”, but could that change after Vitali defeats Maskaev? “Man of my word” – but did he actually verbally promise Vitali a rematch in the ring at the Staples Center, as Dr. Iron Fist vehemently insists? “I will remain retired” – but that just does not sound as convincing as “I guarantee you 100% I will never fight again even if they put $1,000,000,000 on the table.”

Beneath the surface obviousness there is some very comprehendable logic to a Lennox Lewis return. And money could be far from the primary motivation.

You may find this hard to believe but Lennox Lewis can afford to lose to Vitali now. Yes, he can. His legacy is undisputed. Lennox departed the sport as the best, he beat every man he ever fought. In the end, Lewis conquered the sport, the sport did not defeat him like it eventually did to Ali, Louis, Johnson, Tyson, Holmes, etc. Lennox Lewis ruled the sport with grace, dignity, class, in my opinion, when at his best, Lennox Lewis is the greatest Heavyweight champion in history.

But, for whatever reason, he has not been universally embraced as he should have been which is an injustice. Fans respect Lewis when they see him at fights but they do not give him the roar of love and approval that they give to people like Mike Tyson or Roberto Duran. “Greatness is always misunderstood” is a quotation which somewhat explains the paradox of Lewis.

This failure to accept Lewis could be because the public needs to see that it’s heroes are human in order to fully embrace. It could be the public still wants to see the unfinished business of June 2003 and what would happen in the Lewis-Klitschko rematch. It could be because the public feels Klitschko rightfully deserves that rematch and Lewis should honor it – for the sake of the natural progression of the most prestigious prize in all of sport.

I actually believe it’s a win-win situation for Lewis. If he beats Klitschko, he did the right thing. If he loses to Vitali he still wins. Yes, even a defeat to Vitali would lionize his own honor. As well it would serve the long term interests of the sport. If he loses to Klitschko, they can say it wasn’t the real Lennox Lewis. They can say he was 41, he was four years of rust past his best form, he really had nothing to prove anymore anyway.

You know, Jack Dempsey said late in his life to a biographer “I want you to get to the people that losing was the making of me.”

Dempsey, like Lewis, was never universally respected or appreciated by the public to the mass extent which he should have been, until after he lost the one-sided decision to Gene Tunney at the end of his career. Finally, when they saw him lose, they reached out and finally, finally gave Jack collective approval. “Jack, you’ll be our champion forever,” shouted a fan to Jack who was still in the ring.

Jack Dempsey always remembered that random, anonymous shout from the faceless crowd, almost a half century later.

“Losing was the making of me.”

Of course, Jack Dempsey became one of the most beloved heavyweight champions in history after he retired from the ring after losing one more time to Tunney. Everyone loved Jack, the whole world loved Jack. Jack Dempsey was one of Mike Tyson’s biggest inspirations. That’s how powerful the legend of Jack Dempsey was and is. (Go read “Jack Dempsey A Flame of Pure Fire” and you too will love Jack Dempsey, if you don’t already.)

Lennox Lewis has not received his proper respect from the public. For all he has accomplished and the manner of class in which he has graced the sport, Lennox Lewis is still kind of a misunderstood and under-appreciated figure. Perhaps fighting Vitali and even losing to Vitali, might be the last missing piece of the puzzle to the great career of Lennox Lewis.

“I want you to get to the people that losing was the making of me.”

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