Lewis plans to walk tall against Grant

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The Independent Online

Lennox Lewis was as crisp with his responses as he was with his punches during an open workout here at Caesar's Pocono Resort yesterday. The undisputed heavyweight champion is in the final weeks of training for his title bout with Michael Grant at New York's Madison Square Garden on 29 April and the 33-year-old British fighter, who is expected to weigh in at just under 250 pounds, appeared fresh and looked fit and muscular in his four-round sparring session with Jameel McCline.

"He [Lewis] has been working on his speed, and his speed will bother Michael Grant," predicted McCline, who is 6ft 6in and 257 pounds. "He is ready to go."

Lewis will be making his first title defence since he recorded a 12-round unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield on 20 November. Lewis, who drew with Holyfield during a 12-round bout in New York last March, responded to the clamour from the Holyfield camp about a third fight. "They can't beat me in the ring, so they have tried to beat me outside the ring," Lewis said of Holyfield's camp. "If I boxed him 10 times, I will beat him all 10 times."

Lewis, who stands 6ft 5in in his socks, will battle a taller, larger boxer in the 6ft 7in 250-pound 27-year-old Grant, who retained the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title with a 10-round knock-out of Andrzej Golota on 20 November. "Grant is one of the up-and-coming heavyweights in the game," Lewis said. "We are concerned about his size, but I have sparring partners his size. He has a fast jab and good quickness. That's what concerns us. But his biggest weakness can be experience. He hasn't been through what I have been through." When asked about his weakness, Lewis smiled and said: "Apple pie. I have been eating too much of it."

Lewis knows he has reached the top, but believes he still has yet to reach his peak as a boxer. "I'm the undisputed heavyweight champion right now," he said. "But I am improving each fight. I can't say that I have reached the pinnacle yet."

Lewis also entertained thoughts of meeting Mike Tyson in the ring. "He is boxing all over the world right now and if we both keep on winning, we can meet up soon," Lewis said. "But I'm ready. Tyson's name is synonymous with money. I definitely want some of that dough."

Lewis's trainer, Emanuel Steward, believes his fighter is ready. "Michael Grant is a good fighter with a good job and he punches hard," he said. "But Lennox Lewis is too much for Grant. Lennox fights better against taller fighters."

* Mike Tyson will fight in Helsinki in August against an unnamed opponent. A Finnish newspaper yesterday reported that the former world heavyweight champion's manager, Shelly Finkel, had agreed with Helsinki-based Monte Young for a fight on 19 August at the new outdoor Finnair stadium. No other details were given. Young will be in Helsinki next week with further information about the bout. Tyson will fight his fellow American Lou Savarese in Milan on 20 May.