Impatient Lewis eyes immediate retirement

Victory in Saturday's world heavyweight title defence may be Briton's last fight if bout with Tyson cannot be arranged

Whatever happens in Las Vegas on Saturday night, the odds are shortening on the possibility that it could be Lennox Lewis's last fight. Though David Tua, a freakishly proportioned South Sea islander, will arguably throw the most dangerous punches ever aimed at Lewis's head, his influence on the timing of a retirement decision by the 35-year-old world heavyweight champion could be as strong in an overwhelming defeat as an upset victory.

Whatever happens in Las Vegas on Saturday night, the odds are shortening on the possibility that it could be Lennox Lewis's last fight. Though David Tua, a freakishly proportioned South Sea islander, will arguably throw the most dangerous punches ever aimed at Lewis's head, his influence on the timing of a retirement decision by the 35-year-old world heavyweight champion could be as strong in an overwhelming defeat as an upset victory.

The key to everything is Mike Tyson's reaction to Lewis's performance. If Lewis handles Tua, whose style has some clear parallels with that of the young Tyson, with anything like the comfort with which he repelled his last two challengers, the No 1 contender Michael Grant and the South African Frans Botha, the chances of a $30m-plus (over £21m) paynight for a Lewis-Tyson collision could be severely retarded.

Certainly any hint of fresh foot-dragging by Tyson could snap Lewis's patience. He says: "Everyone says Tyson and me is a huge fight, but if this is so why isn't anything happening? When I fought Evander Holyfield agreements were made between Don King and Main Events, and the two TV companies [HBO and Showtime], so I don't understand why it can't be done for a fight with Tyson. I don't understand why HBO [which holds Lewis's contract] and Showtime [Tyson's television patrons, to whom he is deeply indebted] can't show the fight simultaneously. In boxing they say that if a fight is big enough, it goes on. We'll just have to see if this is true in this case.

"Obviously it is the biggest fight out there for me. I have other options, I can travel around the world - I could fight in South Africa on Nelson Mandela's birthday. But I have to ask myself how big are the incentives without a Tyson fight."

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Lewis, who has increasingly taken a hand in the management of his career in recent months, would find adrenalin elusive in a Tyson-less future following the Tua fight. Or to avoid a touch of speculation that Lewis might just have dwelt on the implications of another blow-out victory on Saturday night. Certainly there is no argument that Tyson was lured into a world title defence against Evander Holyfield four years ago largely on the strength of the latter's lacklustre performance against a blown-up cruiserweight, Bobby Czyz. The Tyson camp assumed Holyfield was finished and Holyfield observed before his first victory over Tyson that he would probably never have got the chance if he had not looked so poor against Czyz. When asked if he indeed had sprung a trap for Tyson that night in Madison Square Garden, Holyfield tends to laugh and shake his head and say, "No, you couldn't go into a fight like that." But his smile is enigmatic.

Though Lewis has been installed a firm favourite in the Vegas sports books - he is 3-1 on while Tua is available at 5-2 against - no one, least of all Lewis's trainer, Emanuel Steward, could be serene about the idea of Lewis adding anything to the fight agenda beyond the most practical route to a swift demolition of a potentially dangerous opponent. Many feel that Lewis will revert to type and fight cautiously under the threat of Tua's undoubted power. Tua, who is seven years Lewis's junior, stands just 5ft 10in but last fought at a staggering 18st 1lb, which is two pounds heavier than the 6ft 5in Lewis's biggest-ever fight weight. Steward disagrees with the prediction of a dull decision for Lewis dominated by his jab and a grappling suffocation of Tua's ability to throw ferocious left hooks. "There are bound to be some explosions with Tua's power," says the trainer, "and at some point of the fight I expect Lennox to be fighting for his life. I expect him to win but I also anticipate fireworks."

Lewis's manager, Frank Maloney, says: "Whatever way it all turns out, I'm sure Lennox Lewis will think his way through this fight very well. Obviously it represents more danger than any since he fought Evander Holyfield the first time. But everyone should know by now that Lennox has two great assets: power and great intelligence. The combination will be too much for Tua."

Maloney, whose passionate involvement in Lewis's career has survived his break with the champion's promoter, Panos Eliades, says that no one can really be sure about Lewis's instincts on the timing of his retirement.

"All I can say is that Lennox has always been in charge of his own destiny. He has let other people get on with the details of his career, but he has always had the last word. That is even more true today than when we all started off 11 years ago. The big question is how motivated he will feel if he beats Tua and finds that Tyson is just as far away as ever."

Tyson, amazingly enough, remains a dominating presence even as he inhabits the last remnants of a once fierce talent. He caused a stir when he made a brief appearance in New York last week as Lewis hyped the Tua fight in a public work-out, but he kept his thoughts to himself. Equally noncommittal is Tyson's long suffering manager, Shelly Finkel. Says one American boxing man: "The feeling is that the entire Tyson camp is waiting to see how the Tua fight goes. There's plenty of evidence that Tyson identifies with Tua, sees a lot of himself in a stocky, fierce-punching guy who knows only one way to fight. If Lewis whacks Tua like he did Grant and Botha, it might be game over for Tyson. The last question would be how much he needs a quick $30m?"

Certainly Tyson still needs money - and a lot of it, a situation not helped by the reported $3m settlement he was obliged to make with the British promoter Frank Warren after turning the Glasgow fight with Lou Savarese into a fiasco. Lewis clearly is his last big meal ticket, a fact underlined by the disappointing 450,000 pay-per-view sales for still another travesty of a fight against Andrew Golota last month. But for one reason or another, it is a meal ticket that at any moment could disappear like a quarter in a Vegas slot machine.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
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

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home