Unbeaten American to face Lewis in April

By Steve Bunce

By Steve Bunce

24 December 1999

Lennox Lewis will make the first defence of his world heavyweight titles against the unbeaten American Michael Grant on 15 April at either the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden.

Lewis, 34, is at his home in Jamaica for Christmas but will join his trainer, Emanuel Steward, at the end of January to begin preparing for what could be the first of three fights in 2000.

Steward will also have to oversee the preparation for Naseem Hamed's defence against Junior Jones in London on 11 March and it is likely that both boxers will want to train in a warm environment. A move to a new training camp in Las Vegas looks favourite.

Grant, 27, is trained by Evander Holyfield's latest coach, Don Turner, and advised by Jim Thomas, who performs the same function for Holyfield. Grant is unbeaten in 31 fights but has struggled and failed to impress in his last two outings. He was knocked down in his last fight by Poland's Andrew Golota and was trailing on points when Golota quit in the 10th round.

"Michael showed tremendous maturity against Golota," Turner said. "I believe he has more potential than Evander Holyfield and his size will be the factor against Lewis."

Lewis is expected to clear a minimum of $10m (£6.3m) for risking whatever belts he has at the time of the fight. The International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association have both indicated that Lewis will not be granted a time of grace and he will therefore have to apply for permission to overlook their No 1 contenders to fight Grant. The World Boxing Council has given him until November and the International Boxing Organisation does not have mandatory challengers.

Grant is taller than Lewis at 6ft 7in and heavier at 18st 8lbs but he is not a natural fighter and that is a tremendous disadvantage against a cunning bruiser like Lewis.

n Paul Ingle, from Scarborough, who holds the International Boxing Federation featherweight championship will make the first defence of his title against New York's Kevin Kelley on the undercard of the Naseem Hamed-Junior Jones fight at Olympia on 11 March.

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