Boxing: Lewis tempted by £20m comeback offer

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The Independent Online

Nobody really knows when Lennox Lewis decided that retirement was boring and that the pull of the ring was too much to resist. It seems that on Friday last week, at a trendy bar in Jamaica's Montego Bay, Lewis told a journalist that he was returning to boxing.

Nobody really knows when Lennox Lewis decided that retirement was boring and that the pull of the ring was too much to resist. It seems that on Friday last week, at a trendy bar in Jamaica's Montego Bay, Lewis told a journalist that he was returning to boxing.

In theory, the three-times world heavyweight champion will fight Vitali Klitschko in what is a long overdue rematch in November of this year for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. That, in theory, is what will happen but there are an awful lot of obstacles between Lewis deciding to return last week and stepping through the ropes in November.

Lewis will be 40 when and if he gets back in the ring with Klitschko for a purse which he insists will be in excess of £20m. Last week he allegedly told the freelance journalist that it was "simply too much to resist".

There are, however, some facts surrounding the planned return of Lewis to the ring. It is a fact that he has already spoken to HBO, the American cable company that bankrolled most of his boxing career. It is a fact that Klitschko is desperate to fight Lewis again. It is also a fact that a member of Lewis' tiny inner circle has been asked to compile a list of everybody involved in the fighter's last training camp.

There are some in the business who doubt that the figures mentioned in the brief missive from Montego Bay are correct. Late last year a figure of $10m (£5.3m) was mentioned but over the Christmas and New Year period an additional $30m appears to have been added to the figure.

If Lewis has been offered a purse of over £20m then it is possible that he will consider ending his retirement and returning for one last fight against Klitschko. However, the boxer took part in a total of 18 world heavyweight title fights during a 10-year period and is thought to have banked in excess of $125m.

Lewis claims that he will return to London this week to start putting in place a training schedule that will see him in perfect condition for the planned November fight. Since the brief three-paragraph comment from him became known early on Saturday it has transpired that his mother, Violet, has absolutely no idea that her "little boy" is planning a comeback.

Lewis last fought in June 2003 when he was trailing on points against Klitschko before a series of grotesque cuts forced the referee to intervene in round six. There was talk of a rematch, but Lewis refused all offers and announced his retirement six months later, and since that afternoon at the Grosvenor House in London's Park Lane it was thought that he would stay retired.

In December last year Lewis was a frustrated ringside witness at the massacre of Danny Williams by Klitschko in Las Vegas. On that night Lewis vaguely alluded to a comeback, but most people believed that it was simply macho talk.

Klitschko's business manager, Bernt Boente, admitted yesterday that he had heard the rumours and that Lewis had already approached HBO. He said: "It would be easy to make a fight between Lennox and Vitali but first we have to fight Hasim Rahman in May."

Lewis, if the reports are true, will fly to London tomorrow and begin putting together the first stages of a comeback that nobody in boxing really wants but which nobody in boxing would be surprised at.

Before Lewis walked away from boxing he had fought 44 times, winning 41 during a career that started eight months after he won Olympic gold in 1988. In 2002 he finally met and beat Mike Tyson to secure his legacy but now the gold medal, the title fights and his place in history could be undone by a return to the ring for cash, and cash only.

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