By James Slater: Former heavyweight king and all-time great Lennox Lewis gave an exclusive and highly interesting interview on T.V last night in the U.K, as he spoke candidly before Sky Sports cameras. The retired legend, now aged 45, made it abundantly clear he will NOT be fighting again; saying how he is aghast to see former foes Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Shannon Briggs still trying to recapture what they were able to do in their twenties – an “impossible” goal, according to the three-time ruler.
The hour-long interview was full of interesting and revealing comments from the father of three, but it was when he spoke about his epic, somewhat controversial fight with Vitali Kitschko (Lewis’ final fight) that Lennox was most interesting.
Lewis spoke about how he is “always” asked why he never came back to fight Klitschko again, and he gave his reasons for not returning to give us the fight some fans (and Vitali himself) have obsessed about ever since 2003.
“People always ask me why I never came back to fight [Vitali] Kitschko [again],” Lewis said to Sky Sports. “The reason was, I had no hunger for Klitschko – he never said he wanted to eat my children, he never bit me in the leg (as former opponent Mike Tyson had done). He never did anything like that.
“So, when it came time for me to see if I should fight Klitschko again, I thought – at my worst, at my worst! I beat Klitschko and look what I did to his face! I was at my worst – just think [what would’ve happened] if I’d trained just a little bit harder. I didn’t need to fight him again.”
Indeed, fans do tend to forget that Lewis, who had originally trained for a fight with Kirk Johnson the June night he met late replacement Klitschko, had only a limited amount of time to get ready for “Dr Iron Fist” and his style of fighting. Yet still Lewis busted up Klitschko and won via TKO.
Lewis was asked if he feels he would have won had the fight not been stopped due to the quite horrific cuts Klitschko suffered in that great action fight.
“Of course,” Lewis answered. “What I did to Klitschko was, I brought him into the deep water. After five rounds, that was it – the same as it was with Frank Bruno. That’s the problem today with the heavyweights, they only train for a five round fight, and that’s why the Klitschkos beat them, because they are in such great condition.”
Lewis was asked just who gave him his toughest-ever fight. And though Lennox said all his fights were tough in one way or another, the name Ray Mercer came up.
“Ray Mercer was tough,” Lewis admitted. “They put me in a small ring with him! That was a great fight. They really wanted to test my heart, so they gave me that fight. He [Mercer] asked me some questions with his combinations, and I answered him with combinations!”
As to the two losses Lewis suffered in his pro career – to Oliver McCall in 1994 and to Hasim Rahman in 2001 (both avenged) – the 45-year-old gave his reasons for why he lost the two big upsets; McCall first:
“The first loss, to McCall – his right hand got there first,” he said. “And then the referee counted fast. I was up on my feet, and I was like “what are you doing!?” “Let me go on.” But that loss helped me, that and the loss to Hasim Rahman – in that it rekindled the flame that was dwindling in me.”
And why he lost to Rahman?
“Everything was not aligned for me that day. Ask ten people why I lost that fight and they’ll give you ten different reasons. It was the altitude, the different timing, being in a different place – I‘m not trying to make any excuse. But it was a lucky shot, to tell you the truth. In the second fight he never touched me and he couldn’t understand it.”
Lewis did indeed look flawless in the 4th-round KO revenge win over “The Rock,” and he explained to Sky Sports viewers the difference between the lucky punch Rahman won with, and the deliberate shot he himself won the second fight with.
“A lucky shot is a shot that is thrown one time and connects one time,” he explained. “It’s not like the man meant to do it. In the second fight between me and him, I was throwing my right hand from round one, that means I meant to knock him out with that right hand. That was no lucky shot I knocked him out with!”
It’s tough to argue with much of what Lennox says, and maybe now fans will put to rest the idea that he “ducked” a return with Vitali Klitschko.
Indeed, even his harshest critics will surely agree: Lennox Lewis did all that was required of him during his tenure in the sport of boxing!