Lewis rival struggles to impress

Lennox Lewis saw nothing to concern him too much in Atlantic City last night after prospective foe Michael Grant had to twice pull himself off the floor before stopping Poland's Andrew Golota.

Lennox Lewis saw nothing to concern him too much in Atlantic City last night after prospective foe Michael Grant had to twice pull himself off the floor before stopping Poland's Andrew Golota.

The undisputed world heavyweight champion, who arrives back triumphant in London tomorrow morning, was at ringside with manager Frank Maloney to run the rule over Grant, who is being spoken of as an opponent for Lewis in London next year.

Not only was 6ft 7in Grant sent to the deck twice in the opening round, but at the time of the stoppage midway through the 10th he was behind on all three judges' cards - 86-81, 87-80 and 85-83. And Lewis blew Golota away inside a round two years ago.

Being a former basketball player and American footballer, who had a trial with Kansas City Royals as a pitcher, Grant is not the most naturally gifted heavyweight but certainly had his heart and chin tested by the Pole.

"I knew when I got knocked down in the first it would be a test of my faith," said the unbeaten Grant, who improved his record to 32-0 with his 22nd stoppage.

"I wasn't going to get counted out, I wasn't going to quit, it's not even in me. I sustained with my ability and used my talent."

And the prospect of a fight with Lewis? Grant said: "That is the fight I want. I've wanted that fight since six fights ago.

"If they make the fight, they make the fight. I'm not going to pressure anybody to make it. When the time comes, I'll be ready."

The fact that Lewis and Maloney, who earlier in the week attended the World Boxing Association convention in Panama, delayed their return to Britain to be present in Atlantic City suggests that Grant figures in their plans for 2000.

Grant had a point deducted in the third for holding and hitting, while Golota - twice disqualified against Riddick Bowe - also had a point taken away in the fourth.

Golota put together a strong ninth round but in the 10th Grant landed a powerful over-hand right, then unleashed a 15-punch barrage that included a damaging right cross.

The Pole crumpled to canvas but was up at two to take the remainder of the mandatory eight-count. Asked three times if he wanted to carry by referee Randy Neumann, Golota appeared to shake his head.

Grant said: "My trainer Don Turner told me I had to knock him out. You know what you've got to do. I had to use my speed and Golota had a hard time finding my jab when I was behind it.

Turner, also trainer of Evander Holyfield, said: "The only way to win was to work, work, work.

"I told him the round before that he was behind and he had to knock the guy out. Forget about things and throw punches. We found out he was a real fighter tonight."

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