Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight champion, will retire if he fails to beat Hasim Rahman and win back his title in their rematch at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, on 17 November.
Lewis, who celebrates his 36th birthday on Sunday, made the announcement in New York yesterday on day three of a six-day publicity tour to promote his second meeting with Rahman. In April Lewis was knocked out in the fifth round in South Africa.
"I want to come back into the game and make things right by winning my belts but if I can't win this fight with Rahman I will call it a day," Lewis said. "Why should I go on? There is no point because I have achieved a lot in my career and I don't want to be seen as a stepping stone for young fighters. I want to be Lennox Lewis, the undisputed champion of the world, or I will retire."
The promoter of the rematch, Don King – dressed as an American judge to support his description of the fight as the "Final Judgement" – praised the contribution of Lewis to a heavyweight division that has been in turmoil since Mike Tyson self-destructed 11 years ago.
"I think history will remember Lennox kindly but let us not forget that he still has a chance of getting the sweetest thing in boxing when he meets Hasim – revenge," King said.
Rahman was a 20-1 underdog when they met in South Africa but he had travelled out six weeks in advance to acclimatise, while Lewis arrived only a week before the fight after working on a film in Las Vegas with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.
"If he [Lewis] loses there is no point in him carrying on," said Rahman. "If he retires it will give him more time to concentrate on his movie career and he will retire because I will prove that the knock-out punch the first time was not a lucky punch."Reuse content