Lennox Lewis Interview (2009)

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Lennox Lewis Interview (2009)


Even though this was two years ago, it's still relevant because nothing has changed in the heavyweight division. He discusses his losses, favorite knockouts, boxing today, and said that the fact that the Klitshkos don't fight each other is bad for the sport. I agree.

FanHouse: Can you talk about your motivation for your rematch with Hasim Rahman, and what you called his "Lottery punch"?

Lennox Lewis: The Rock fight, man, I took really seriously. He was dealing with some disrepect. I realized that I was not at my best in South Africa. I know that it was a lucky punch. I'm telling people that a lucky punch is a punch that is thrown one time and you land it one time. A punch that you're trying to land is a punch is thrown many times, and then, all of a sudden, you adjust it, and then it lands -- that means that you meant to throw that punch with the type of danger it brings and the results that it brings. You want to knock this person out. Rahman threw a lucky punch that landed.

FanHouse: Why was it so important to fight Mike Tyson?

Lennox Lewis: My main goal was to fight Mike Tyson. We didn't know if the Tyson fight was going to come around. He went into incarceration, came back out, was supposed to fight me, but he gave me step-aside money and wanted Evander Holyfield first. Then there was the bite fight with Evander Holyfield, and it took years after that.

There was the long wait about whether or not he could fight again and in which state. All of those things. When we finally got the fight, that was the ultimate fight for my era. I couldn't really retire without facing him because any time you go to the barber shop, you're faced with the old argument about whether or not I could beat Mike Tyson. There was a hunger for Tyson. I had to end that question for history.

FanHouse: Can you discuss your performance against Vitali Klitschko?

Lennox Lewis: I had taken a year off after fighting Mike Tyson, and I came back to fight Kirk Johnson. I had prepared for Johnson, but it was supposed to be a tuneup fight for Klitschko, who I was supposed to fight at the end of the year. [Johnson was injured and pulled out of their fight.]. I took the fight with Klitschko on ten days notice. I had one sparring session with a guy over six feet tall, and he only gave me five rounds.

Klitschko was actually training for a while for me. Klitschko wasn't a fight where I was trying to out-box him, I was trying to knock him out. My style was just to go walking through a guy that was bigger than me, and I wanted to see if he was tougher than me.

I'll admit, he was successful in the first two rounds, but after that, it was all me. I was really taking him into the deep end. This was a war. We're gladiators. After that fight, I realized that at my worst, I can beat Klitschko, so at my best, I know that I can beat him. So there was no real hunger for him. So that was the right time to walk away from the game. Besides, he's not a guy who said that he was going to eat my children or anything, so I could walk away, no problem.

FanHouse: Should Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko fight each other?

Lennox Lewis: I think that they should fight each other. If you look at Serena and Venus Williams, they're in tennis. And they're two of the best. So what would it be like if they said, 'We're never going to play each other.'?

This is a contact sport. This is a brutal sport. This is what we do. I think that it's bad for the sport because you have a monopoly of a few belts, and yet, you really don't know who the best is.

This is a sport where you want to know who the king of the hill is. We don't want to know that 'Oh, two brothers hold it.' We want to know which of the two brothers is the best.

FanHouse: Do you wish that Riddick Bowe, whom you had beaten as an amateur, had fought you instead of throwing his professional title belt into the trash can?

Lennox Lewis: Yes. I thought that was a big disrespect, not only to the great men who held that belt, but also, to me. That was his way of trying to get out of the fight. I can understand that they wanted to stay away from me and to keep that gravy train going for a while, but this is a sport where its 'King of the Hill, baby.'

Favorite knockout -- Hasim Rahman, KO 4, Nov. 17, 2001

"I would have to say that it was the rematch against Hasim Rahman. Rahman has to take that one.That was sweet. It was a situation where he beat me in five rounds in South Africa, and then, I came back around seven months later and stopped him in four rounds -- in splended fashion.

"The wickedest thing was that when he landed on the canvas, stretched out, it was with the emblem of the Don King crown right above his head. Don King told me, 'Man, you couldn't have knocked him out in a better place. You put him right underneath of the crown, with the Don King crown over his head.'" Sports Illustrated ran an overhead view of the KO beneath the caption "CROWNED."

Most surprising knockout -- Donovan Razor Ruddock, KO 2, Oct. 2, 1992

Ruddock entered the fight with a record of 26-2-1, with 19 knockouts. Ruddock had knocked out two, consecutive opponents, one of them -- former world champion, Greg Page -- in eight rounds. In addition, Ruddock had aquitted himself well during his only two losses by seventh-round knockout, and, 12th-round decision to a then, once-beaten, Mike Tyson in gruelling bouts.

Lewis entered the fight with a record of 21-0 that included 18 knockouts. But with the exception of a third-round knockout over a fading former Olympic gold medalist, Tyrell Biggs, was considered to be largely untested.

"Razor Ruddock was a real surprise. I really didn't expect to knock him out that quickly, but I was really focused on that fight, and I was in great shape," Lewis said. "That was the launching point of my career. I believe that I made Americans, collectively, say, 'What?' And I believe that Riddick Bowe said, 'I don't want none of that.'"

Most devastating loss -- Oliver McCall, TKO by 2, Sept. 24, 1994

"Both of the knockouts were bad. It's hard to seperate them," said Lewis, referring to his second and fifth round stoppages at the hands of McCall and Rahman, respectively.

McCall dethroned Lewis as WBC titlist.

"The first one, against McCall, that might have been my worst one," Lewis said. "I was walking straight into his right hand, so I got even more of a jolt."

Second most devastating loss -- Hasim Rahman, KO by 5, April 22, 2001

"The second one, against Rahman, that was bad because the way I landed -- hard onto my back -- I was fortunate to have had my hair tied into a bun," Lewis said.

Rahman dethroned Lewis as WBC, IBF and IBO champion.

"If I wouldn't have done that," Lewis said, " then it wouldn't have cushioned my head when it hit the ground."

Most bizzare ending to a fight -- Oliver McCall, TKO 5, Feb. 7, 1997

"That was really strange," Lewis said of his rematch with a fighter who mysteriously retired to a corner, refused to defend himself, and began sobbing, heavily, before the fight was waved to a halt. "Yes, that was bizzare. McCall, definitely."

Second most bizzarre ending to a fight -- Henry Akinwande, W DQ 5, July 12, 1997

"That was Henry Akinwande," Lewis said of the 6-7, previously unbeaten fighter. After being warned repeatedly for clutching and holding, the London-born Akinwande was disqualified for excessive holding. "That was the night when he showed me how to waltz."

Best motivational and colorful speech by trainer Manny Steward -- Ray Mercer, MD 10, May 10, 1996

"It was during my fight with Ray Mercer. He said 'these [guys] are trying to rip us off, man, you've got to go out there and do it. You've got to give me these last few rounds.' I think that it was the ninth round or something like that." Lewis was awared the win, 96-94, 96-95, and, 95-95.

Second best motivational and colorful speech by Manny Steward -- Mike Tyson, KO 8, June 8, 2002

"Against Mike Tyson, Manny was telling me to 'stop [messing] around in there,'" said Lewis. "I was hitting Mike with everything that I had, but Manny didn't know that I had hurt my hand, and I didn't want to waste any of my time trying to tell him."

Worst promotional experience leading up to a fight -- Hasim Rahman II

"I would have to say that he disrecpted me a few times more than anyone," said Lewis, who got into a nationally-televised scuffle with Rahman in the ESPN studios, and at whom "The Rock" constantly zinged one-liners questioning the durability of the then-ex champ's chin, among other things.

"With Tyson, I got into it with him once," Lewis said. "The Rahman fight, we almost got into it twice."