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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?