By James Slater: Retired heavyweight great Lennox Lewis, a fighter who really did it all (Olympic glory, all manner of other amateur titles, three-time world ruler), gave a fascinating interview with Mail Online this week, in which he spoke about a number of things heavyweight-related.
First of all, Lewis, who captured a gold in the 1988 games, spoke about his belief in current GB Olympic hope (Okay, Lennox won his Olympic medal for Canada) Anthony Joshua. Lewis is of the belief that the tall, athletic and extremely gifted Joshua can go all the way in London, and that afterwards, if he has managed to win gold, he will do likewise at pro level – picking up many millions of dollars/pounds in the process.
“The world is waiting for the next dynamic heavyweight,” Lewis told The Mail. “If Joshua is that big man then translate those hundred million dollars into pounds, for starters. He would certainly earn more than Mike Tyson or myself. Anthony will become the most sought after sportsman in the world if he takes gold.
“I believe he is going to win it. He has the raw talent. Now he must show us the attitude. I told him the other day that London is house – so go clean house.”
We’ll know very shortly if Lewis is correct or not about Joshua. The hope who has an absolute ton of pressure on his wide shoulders has his first fight tonight (approx 11.15PM U.K time – sadly well past my bedtime!) and he has no easy opener: Joshua will face mighty Cuban Erislandy Savon, the nephew of great Olympian Felix Savon. But Lewis, and a number of other experts, have faith in Joshua. As I say, we’ll soon see.
Lewis has advised Joshua that the best thing he can do once he does go pro, is to get the best possible people behind him. Lennox got the right manager in Frank Maloney and he (eventually) got the right trainer in Emanuel Steward. Joshua, Lewis said, must take his time and do things right – something he says 2000 Olympic champ Audley Harrison didn’t do (“he didn’t listen to me,” Lewis told The Mail).
It really could be an open division that Joshua walks into when he turns pro. The Klitschkos may well be long gone by the time the youngster is ready to go for the world title, and, if Lewis is right, Joshua will indeed become the next heavyweight star. Lewis says the Klitschkos are “The only A-class heavyweights” on the scene today, but that David Price and Joshua can take over when they’re gone.
“Price is big enough and has the talent, movement, dominant jab and big punch to suggest he might go all the way,” Lewis said. “The field is wide open. I grew up as a man during my Olympics and I hope Joshua does the same.”
Lewis isn’t convinced David Haye is a fighter capable of defeating either A-class heavyweight, Wladimir or Vitali:
“I beat Vitali in a great fight when we were in our prime. To be honest, David [Haye] might have lasted a couple of rounds against me if he was lucky. Heavyweight championship boxing is now a game for giants.”
Can Anthony Joshua scale the dizzy heights?