Boxing; The heavyweight wonderers

A new generation of contenders are jostling for position

NOTHING LASTS. Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson will, sooner rather than later, become too old to cope with a new generation of fiery, young heavyweights.

Lewis is 33, Tyson an elderly, worn 32, Holyfield 36 in a fortnight's time. While Lewis looks the freshest of the trio, his points win over Zeljko Mavrovic in the bizarre Mohegan Sun Casino on a Connecticut Indian Reservation last week left many critics with furrowed brows.

While I was one of the few who found great interest in the 12-round fight, who came away satisfied that Lewis had performed well in strange circumstances, and that Mavrovic had fought with a stubborn heart and determination which belied his lack of world-class experience, it is increasingly apparent that it is time to look to the future. Behind Lewis, Holyfield and, if he retains his licence, Tyson, the queue is forming.

We have heard a lot this past week about and from Herbie Hide, but since losing in six rounds to Riddick Bowe in 1995, he has fought nobody of consequence. Before he can be taken seriously, he must do so. He holds the World Boxing Organisation belt, which is a minor bauble but which does attract some interest. He also has a major promoter, Frank Warren. He is not an avoided man.

Those jostling for position include several fighters in their middle 20s: David Tua, Michael Grant, Kirk Johnson, Lamon Brewster and the Ukrainian brothers, Vladimir and Vitaly Klitchako. Shannon Briggs, beaten in a thriller by Lewis last March, may also have a significant role to play.

Tua, who demolished a pathetic character named Eric Curry on the Lewis- Mavrovic undercard in 43 seconds, is perhaps the most interesting. Short and stocky, he was born on a tiny Samoan island and raised in New Zealand, for whom he won a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics. He turned pro in the United States and has a long-term deal with Main Events, who are Lewis's American promoters.

Unless the elusive Holyfield fight happens, Tua may get his chance next year. He is far from perfect just yet. He scaled 17st for the Curry fight, and when he stepped off the scales his trainer, Lou Duva, gave an impatient shake of the head. Once the bell rang, he rumbled straight into Curry and disposed of him, as he should have done.

Duva, the veteran Barney Rubble figure whose family runs the Main Events enterprise, is not slow to talk him up: "David is good enough to win a world title, whether or not we wait for the others to move out of the way," he said.

Grant, from Paterson, New Jersey, the rough town which produced the legendary Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, has won 29 fights in a row. Johnson, Brewster and the Klitchskos are all unbeaten.

Meanwhile, Lewis's next opponent is likely to be the Texan, Lou Savaresa, in January. It is not a fight Lewis wants. It is not a fight anyone outside the Savaresa camp wants. But it is almost certainly what we will be given.

Lewis and Holyfield should meet, but for all the talk in the 16 months since Holyfield's disqualification win over Tyson, a deal has not been struck. There must now be serious doubts that it will ever happen. Why? Because boxing people put their own interests first. They are not in the business for the love of the game, to serve human interest or for any other twee principle. They will make deals only if they suit their own pockets.

And as things stand there are too many people who believe a Lewis-Holyfield fight would hurt them financially. It's far easier to go on talking about it, to use the fight as a carrot to maintain public interest, and to sell a string of lesser attractions on the back of it. Meanwhile Lewis and Holyfield go on growing older and more vulnerable.

Savaresa, who is two months older than Lewis, is hardly a fresh face. He was good enough to give George Foreman a close fight and blew away Buster Douglas in a round, but he was also badly exposed by a Nigerian second-rater, David Izonritei, last year.

The bad reviews given both Holyfield, for his laborious points win over Vaughn Bean in Atlanta, and Lewis, for his unanimous decision over a brave, stubborn Mavrovic, suggest people are getting tired of them. One American television "face" said of Lewis in a private aside: "I just wish the son- of-a-bitch could fight better."

HBO's respected judge and analyst Harold Lederman said bluntly: "Mavrovic didn't try. He threw 20 punches a round." As astonishing as I found those reactions, they reflect a wider discontent.

More relevant is the evidence of a rift between Lewis and his trainer, Emanuel Steward. Steward's methods do not always endear him to others in the backroom - I have been told many times he has a tendency to flit in and out of camp and leave the daily grind to others.

Maybe that's fair criticism, maybe not. But if it is only other handlers he is irritating, then it has no overall relevance. This time, however, the indication was that he had annoyed Lewis, who said afterwards: "I trained for a different fight."

Lewis, like every other world- class man, knows boxing is not always predictable and that to survive at the highest level you have to be able to adapt. If all had been well backstage, he would not have even considered making such a complaint.

The process of change, both inside the Lewis camp and in the heavyweight division as a whole, may be accelerating.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?