Boxing: Holyfield of dreams for frustrated Lewis

Bob Mee says that Britain's finest heavyweight is in danger of going down in history

IT IS the fate of most athletes, from the humblest part-timers to world-class professionals, to spend their youth waiting for a single, defining moment that never happens.

For the elite few it does, and by its happening sets them apart forever. In most sports it means the winning of an Olympic gold or the shattering of a world record. For a boxer, it means the victory that will be remembered above all others, and which places him in history. Only the very great - Muhammad Ali is the prime example - manage to find perfection more than once.

For most, no matter how wonderful their gift and however much they do achieve, retirement brings a nagging, gnawing sense that if circumstances had been different there could have been more. It is mostly a question of timing. An injury here, a mistake there, and everything is spoiled. Or in the case of Lennox Lewis, it may well be the fights that never happened which will dominate his thoughts whenever the time comes to look back.

He should have fought Riddick Bowe and he should have fought Mike Tyson. Now he should fight Evander Holyfield, whose own destiny was carved when he beat Tyson in November 1996. But will he?

After Lewis's fifth-round stoppage of Shannon Briggs in Atlantic City last weekend, the Home Box Office television supremo, Seth Abraham, could only estimate that Lewis- Holyfield might happen by the end of this year, or early next.

First, Lewis must meet his mandatory challenger for the World Boxing Council belt, a capable Croatian named Zeljko Mavrovic, and Holyfield has signed to fight Henry Akinwande in New York on 6 June.

In spite of what Lewis's manager, Frank Maloney, reports as excellent viewing figures in America, HBO are not exactly consumed with the idea of a Lewis-Mavrovic fight. Mavrovic, who does his fighting in Germany, means nothing in the United States, and for all his increasing reputation, Lewis is a non-American.

HBO, who have one fight left in their deal with Lewis, will talk with his promoter, Panos Eliades, and Maloney this week. Maloney was reluctant to accept the published HBO stance. "They were over the moon with the ratings for the Briggs fight. We'll see what their position is," he said.

Just as Lewis did not particularly want to fight Briggs, he probably sees Mavrovic as an obligation. He is, of course, a professional prize- fighter of the highest rank and will not wish to be sold short. However, it is the meaning which Holyfield will bring to his career and life that attracts him, not the payday.

Against Briggs, his impatience and frustration were horribly evident in his careless defence. He was almost knocked down, shaken up, and even as he took control in rounds three and four he gulped great lungfuls of air. His fifth-round win was proof of his fighting heart, power and skill. But while the spectacle was compulsive, it may also tell his camp what they do not want to hear.

It is a possibility worth considering that, whether or not the Holyfield fight happens, the emotional and physical peak of the most successful heavyweight Britain has ever produced came when he destroyed Andrew Golota in 95 chilling seconds last October. And unless they can produce the Holyfield fight quickly to rekindle the flame before it fades out, then recognition as one of the greatest heavyweights in history will have eluded him.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'