Boxing: Draw `has helped me' says Lewis

HE MIGHT not have thought it when the decision was announced, but Lennox Lewis now believes his controversial draw with Evander Holyfield has given his career a boost.

With cries of "fix" still resounding, the World Boxing Council world heavyweight champion has hit back on an ITV programme, An Audience With Lennox Lewis, due for transmission on Saturday.

"To be honest the draw has definitely helped me," Lewis said. "People now notice me in the world of boxing. I definitely didn't lose out in that fight. Next time I'll take the decision-making out of the judges' hands and knock Holyfield out."

Lewis also called for punch statistics to be considered in fight scoring. Against Holyfield the British heavyweight landed two and a half times more punches than his opponent and feels there should be a radical shake- up in the judging system.

Speaking on the programme, hosted by Ian Wright, Lewis heard the controversial judge Eugenia Williams defend her scoring in favour of Holyfield.

"Judges have the best seat in the house and most of my points were scored from long range, so it sounds like excuses to me," Lewis said. "They should get hold of the punch stats and see how many were thrown and how many landed. Any technology would help at ringside."

Williams claimed press photographers impeded her view of the fight, leading to calls that judges should score from television screens. But Lewis believes that may make their task even more difficult, saying, "I don't think judges need televisions because they can see with the naked eye and from where they are they should get the perfect view."

Lewis's war of words with Holyfield still shows no signs of abating and the British fighter says he is still seething with his American opponent's mistaken prophesy that he would be felled in the third round.

"He's not a one-punch artist. I thought it was a liberty to say he could knock me out," Lewis said. "That was never going to happen and it just made me more careful in the third round. Who has Holyfield ever knocked out in the early rounds anyway?"

Lewis also defended himself against accusations that he lacked the killer instinct to finish off his opponent during the much-debated fifth round.

"I'm closer to the action than anyone else," he said. "I hit him with a good punch, and he lost his balance and was against the ropes. No fighter has ever knocked out Holyfield and there were still seven rounds to go."

Johnny Nelson profited from a contyroversial verdict on saturday night, and yesterday paid tribute to the system rather than himself.

Nelson landed the World Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title in Derby and is now on terms - in trophies if not financially - with his former stable-mate Naseem Hamed.

His fifth-round stoppage of Manchester's Carl Thompson, in which referee Paul Thomas was, by a wide opinion, premature in his decision, now puts him on equal footing with Hamed as a WBO champion.

"I entered the gym all those years ago with nothing, no natural ability, no raw talent, nothing. No promise at all," said Nelson. "But I'm a product of Brendan Ingle's system. When I succeed it shows that the system succeeds, Brendan's system. I had no amateur grounding, 14 fights three wins, what kind of career is that? So when I foul up in public I've done it for my gym, although now I've secured the future for myself, my wife and my kids."