Boxing: Klitschko left to rule the world with an iron fist

The nearest Lennox Lewis has been to the inside of a boxing ring in the past 18 months was when he strolled into the media room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas last week and spotted a couple of British writers playing a computer video game in which he was matched against the former world cruiserweight champion James Toney.

Seeing himself on the brink of defeat he grabbed the controls and manipulated them to land a second-round KO. It was pure make-believe - exactly the same as any prospect of him making a comeback to face the gloved Goliath Vitali Klitschko again.

Oh yes, there was plenty of talk from Lewis after Danny Williams, the putative giant-killer, had been reduced to the role of Humpty Dumpty in Las Vegas's seasonal version of a pugilistic pantomime. He had wanted to climb through the ropes, he said, and show his battered fellow Briton how to do it. He was sorely tempted to consider a return with Dr Ironfist. "A lot of people are pressing me to do it and I could be ready in nine months."

Nine months? That would mean he would have been away from boxing for over two years, and past his 40th birthday. No wonder that after sleeping on it he seems to have reneged on the idea. "I've retired, been there, done that and proved all I needed to prove," he was saying yesterday.

As Klitschko himself says, Lewis is too smart not to stay in retirement. Deep down he must sense a return would end in humiliation, and possibly the sort of torture that Williams, picked off as if he was a dartboard, courageously endured for almost eight ridiculously lop-sided rounds.

So Lewis v Klitschko II is not even virtual reality. But the former champion is right about one thing. It will take a tall, powerful man like himself to beat the Ukrainian. And there isn't one around.

I do not go along with those who scorn Klitschko as one of the poorest heavyweight champions of all time. There has been a post-fight denigration of the Ukrainian. They say he's robotic, which is fair enough. With his height and stance that is inevitable but he punches cleanly and crisply, has a classic jab, his chin is not fragile, and he has never been off his feet. He is hard to hit and harder still to out-manoeuvre.

What is more he is also a smart fighter in every sense. An articulate multi-linguist with a PhD, sleaze-free and with a political conscience. A model champion albeit in an age of moderate heavyweights.

True that as a world heavyweight title holder Klitschko is more Championship than Premiership, and that he would not have beaten Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes and others of similar ilk from bygone eras (though he might have confounded Tyson, who never relished being hit and hurt). But he did not have to beat those guys, only those who are around now.

The Americans may deride him, but they've no one better. So where have all their heavyweights gone? There is a belief that young American athletes who aspired to be boxers are now playing gridiron or basketball where the money is almost as attractive and the pain considerably less. Those kids who might have been decent heavyweights are now linebackers, running backs or tight ends.

The division is starved of talent. Indeed, it has rarely been weaker. Even Don King, who turned up to hold court after the fight, admitted in an uncharacteristic moment of candour: "The heavyweights around - and I've got most of them - are not much good. They're all anonymous. This sport needs rejuvenation."

Klitschko, one of boxing's gang of four heavyweight champions, will next fight one of King's B-listed squad, Hasim Rahman, who once knocked out Lewis but lost similarly in their return. Rahman is the mandatory challenger for the WBC title and of all the King's men may have the best chance against him - according to King. "He has the style to get in close and hammer Klitschko to the body. I guarantee he will hit him properly. Yeah, he's the one to beat him."

One who did is Chris Byrd. Klitschko retired with a career-threatening shoulder when ahead on points four and a half years ago (he was also leading Lewis before he got cut). Byrd, the IBF champion, is a clever boxer with a fly-paper punch. John Ruiz, who holds the WBA version, is as stiff as a statue while Lamon Brewster, who took the WBO crown from Klitschko's younger brother Wladimir, remains as much a journeyman as Williams turned out to be. This heavyweight pot is filled with insipid alphabet soup.

As for Williams, ill-advised to carry so much weight at 19st.4lb, he is some £700,000 richer but bruised of face and ego. He says he'd still like to be a champion one day, which is likely to be another of those impossible dreams of this dignified Londoner.

The reality is retirement, which his management team are urging, or either a British title fight with Matt Skelton or a possible return with Tyson, whose demolition predictably proved an inadequate yardstick by which to measure the 6ft 7in Klitschko. Yet Williams says he wants to keep going "until I am a shot fighter". Like so many in this savagely addictive trade, Williams insists that boxing is in his blood. One just wishes he could be dissuaded from spilling more of it.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
Arts and Entertainment
James Dean on the set of 'Rebel without a Cause', 1955
photographyHe brought documentary photojournalism to Tinseltown, and in doing so, changed the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing