Boxing: Surfeit of mediocrity fails to tempt Lewis into a comeback

He is plump and seemingly pleased now, as if he is eating to make sure no one thinks he is going to come back and save the miserable heavyweight division.

"You ever see a skinny king?" Lennox Lewis asked playfully. "I told you you would miss me."

A reminder, as though one were needed in the last couple of weeks, that Lewis's championship reign, starting with the 1988 Olympics and ending with one of his most exciting victories 10 months ago in the very building where he was seated, have not attested to the appreciation he will be gaining as the years pass.

In numbing succession, there have been three so-called heavyweight "title" fights this month that have served more to raise Lewis's reputation than discover a true replacement. A fourth "title" bout today, though, promises to be the most exciting and significant.

Lewis, 38, was granting a one-on-one interview with The Independent in an ice hockey team dressing room at the Staples Centre here, where last June he had his last fight and where today his successor will be chosen, at least as the World Boxing Council titlist.

Minutes before, at the final press conference for Vitali Klitschko's fight against Corrie Sanders, the South African left-hander Lewis is promoting, he had told the international media gathering: "This is great, being at the podium and not being able to fight."

Lewis has started a family and promoting obviously is better than lowering himself to the mediocrity of the current heavyweight landscape. The match here will be the fourth heavyweight "title" fight in 15 days and Lewis was seen walking out of one of them, an incredibly tortuous affair won by John Ruiz over Fres Oquendo. Ruiz retained the World Boxing Association belt, but lost Lewis last Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. "The reason I walked out was that was the best time to go to the bathroom," said Lewis. "The fight wasn't holding water, so I thought it was time for me to get rid of mine." He returned to be unimpressed with Chris Byrd, the International Boxing Federation champion who accused Lewis of ducking him and giving up that belt rather than face the tricky left-hander. Lewis said he was surprised at how well Andrew Golota, who he had blasted out in one round, fought while gaining a draw.

The flurry of "title" fights began when Wladimir Klitschko, who Lewis had told Sanders how to beat 13 months ago, fell from exhaustion after five rounds of mostly pounding the unheralded Lamon Brewster. At one stage, the younger Ukrainian brother was thought to be the biggest danger to Lewis. But Sanders, advised by Lewis to attack with lead left hands, scored four knockdowns with that punch and it was over at 27 seconds of the second round.

"Brewster showed a lot of heart," said Lewis. "I think it had to do with his friend dying [his longtime trainer, Bill Slayton]." He added that Sanders' punches were still being felt when Wladimir Klitschko fought Brewster and that "the reason that happened [the collapse] was because of Corrie's shots."

Vitali Klitschko, who was ahead of Lewis on all three official cards when their bout was halted because of canal-sized cuts around the Ukrainian's left eye, is the 4-1 on favourite to win today's fight and solidify his position as heir apparent. This is tempered by disappointment in not getting a rematch with Lewis, his brother's pathetic performance against Brewster and trouble in his camp - he quietly released Emanuel Steward, Lewis's former trainer, in favour of his longtime German conditioner, Fritz Sdunek.

Sanders, on the other hand, seemed soft at 235lb, 10lb heavier than he was for Wladimir. Maybe he was getting ready to tee off his hoped-for career as a professional golfer. No, said Lewis, Sanders is not more golfer than fighter.

"Am I a chess player or a boxer?" he asked.

Maybe still both. Is he really retired when there doesn't seem to be much competition around? "As of right now," was all he would say.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine