Boxing: 'I'm going out like Rocky Marciano and Gene Tunney. They both retired as world champions and like them I will never come back'

Lennox Lewis will never fight again. The World Boxing Council and International Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion finally put an end to the speculation and rumour surrounding his career at a press conference in London yesterday and confirmed that he is walking away from the sport.

"I want to say that on June 21, 2003, I had my last fight as a professional boxer," Lewis said. "I am sick of people asking me why I am still fighting and it is not always easy to answer. If a fighter is not hungry like I was for my important fights then he shouldn't fight and that is how I feel. I'd hate to get out of bed knowing that my next fight could be my last fight. Can you imagine what that would do to me?"

Rumours about yesterday's announcement first circulated on Wednesday but Lewis, 38, admitted that after beating Mike Tyson in 2002 he had seriously considered retiring, yet stayed on believing he had two more fights left in him. Also, there was an extremely lucrative rematch clause in the contract for the original Tyson fight.

"Tyson was the ultimate fight for me and I immediately started to look at retirement but I decided to continue," Lewis said. "I had to fight and beat Tyson, and once that was done I knew I had achieved what I set out to achieve all those years ago. Boxing is a drug and I will miss it, it is in my blood but I am moving on now and that is it for me."

Lewis admitted that taking the fight last June against Vitali Klitschko was a risk but he refuted suggestions that he was on his way to defeat before a series of vicious cuts ruled Klitschko out after six rounds.

"Who do you think caused all those cuts? I was getting to him and the ending saved him," insisted Lewis, who on the night was booed from the ring.

"I was prepared to fight him again and I was still speaking with Vitali in January, but he is having some problems with his promoter and that meant that I could not negotiate with him until the end of April," Lewis claimed. The boxer denied that HBO, his main backer in America, had refused his asking price for a rematch.

Lewis leaves behind a heavyweight division without a leader but there are several possible fights and in 12 months' time one fighter could become the undisputed champion. Yesterday, Lewis was quick to put an end to any suggestion that he might come out of retirement for one last pay-day and one last fight.

"I'm going out like Rocky Marciano and Gene Tunney. They both retired as world champions and like them I will never come back," Lewis said.

"I have had my defining fights against some great fighters and after 10 years at the very top there is nothing left to prove, and that is why when I say I will stay away I mean it.'' The boxer's mother, Violet, was smiling throughout the 30-minute conference and his fiancée, Violet Chang, looked equally pleased that he had walked away with his money and faculties intact.

Lewis will take up a directorship at FEM, the company that he has been involved with for three years, and he intends to pass on some of his knowledge to athletes in the future. "I made a lot of mistakes at the start of my career and I would love to share with young athletes all the things that I experienced," he said. "It was not easy becoming the heavyweight champion of the world and it was not easy being the heavyweight champion of the world, but I was lucky because I had a great team and all athletes need support.''

The enigmatic boxer, who during his three reigns as champion fought 18 world championship fights and amassed a vast fortune, insisted that the decision to quit came to him earlier this week in New York. He claims he was just sitting around, looking back over his career and looking at the future when he decided to make his mother a happy woman and call it a day.

"I consider myself one of the greatest and I know I did it with dignity and I know I have come out at the right time," Lewis added. Nobody disagreed.

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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

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'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test