Boxing: Lewis considers final title defence against Klitschko

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The Independent Online

Lennox Lewis is looking increasingly likely to accept the final bout of his career with a world heavyweight title re-match against the Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko.

Lewis has been contemplating retirement ever since his controversial stoppage of Klitschko in June, with his mother, Violet, urging him to get out at the top. But Lewis's trainer, Emmanuel Steward, believes the champion's resistance is weakening and that, having come under increasing pressure from the World Boxing Council to make another defence, the Briton will agree to a last title defence.

Last month, Klitschko said, referring to a possible rematch with Lewis: "I want part two, and everyone wants to see part two. When will that be? No one knows. If Lewis does not fight again, it will mean he is retiring because of me."

Steward said in America this week that he was surprised by Lewis's appearance at the recent wedding of the boxer's friend and chief conditioner, Courtney Shand. "He looked like he was in shape," Steward said. "When I saw him in New York he had looked a little bloated. I told him, 'You look like you're in shape and you've been working out'. But he came short of saying he was coming back."

It would be no surprise if Lewis regretted agreeing to fight Klitschko, a man he always regarded as a poor substitute for another lucrative fight with Mike Tyson. But Lewis now finds himself under pressure from the sanctioning bodies with various supposed contenders jockeying for a world title fight.

One of them is the Buffalo fighter, "Baby" Joe Mesi. "I don't want him to retire. I don't want Vitali Klitschko to beat him," Mesi said yesterday. "I want to beat Lennox Lewis and I think I can now. Hopefully, he'll get that message."