Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

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Luc
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Luc
Vitali probably would have been slight favourite for a rematch for 6 months later, but this is largely irrelevant because Lewis was finished by then. He was finished by the first fight.  

Lewis looked dreadful in that fight, but was still able to mix it up enough to force a stoppage and I think Vitali (despite being legitimately ahead on points) was hurt himself.

A Lennox Lewis in his early 30s blows Vitali out of there.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Duggerman
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Luc wrote
A Lennox Lewis in his early 30s blows Vitali out of there.
Yep. Vitali relatively struggled with OLD Lewis. The Lewis of the Golota/Grant fights would finish him early. (Lewis had a habit of quickly dispatching guys who were a threat to him). The Razor Ruddock fight also comes to mind.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

RICKY TAN
Duggerman wrote

Yep. Vitali relatively struggled with OLD Lewis. The Lewis of the Golota/Grant fights would finish him early. (Lewis had a habit of quickly dispatching guys who were a threat to him). The Razor Ruddock fight also comes to mind.
Vitali had a chin of iron. Lewis wouldn't stop him early. Vitali would always be an awkward fight for him. Lennox was better and would beat him if he were better conditioned but it'd be no easy blowout. Vitali is tougher than given credit for. Lennox landed some monster bombs and uppercuts in their actual fight and Vitali took it on the chin and fired back.

In a rematch 6 months later I too would bet on Vitali. Lennox was about finished as a fighter. Age and ring wars caught up to him. 1999 Lewis and 2010 Klitschko would be a great fight.
Luc
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Luc
Big, tough, awkward Vitali is a puzzle for Lewis and probably a nightmare opponent for the ageing Champ.

But the crux of the matter is who would win in their primes? And the answer is clearly Lewis.

It's a BMW v a Voltswagan. In 03 the BMW was a little beat up, is all
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Entaowed
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Evan Fields


Lennox was spent. He was DONE! But it worked out the best for both fighters in the end. Ironic that both of Vitali's losses were because of career threatening injuries. Doctor's said that he would have done irreparible damage to his shoulder if he fought on against Bryd, and of course the cut against Lewis would have permanently hurt his vision, most likely leading to blindness. If Vitali didn't suffer either loss, he would have had to retire after either fight.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Duggerman
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Evan Fields wrote
If Vitali didn't suffer either loss, he would have had to retire after either fight.
And he went on to dominate after those controversial defeats. I guess that was the trade-off.

But if the Lewis and Byrd fights had continued, Vitali would have likely won both but his career would have ended prematurely. Eye and shoulder injuries can be career killers.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Phantom Punch
Ya'll make a lot of sense but I still disagree that Vitali would win the rematch. Lewis was unprepared, older, only had two weeks to train, etc. But what would a better prepared Lewis do? In a rematch Lewis would know what to expect versus Vitali, and with Emanuel Steward in his corner and Lewis' own long ring history of successful ring wars, I think they'd overcome Vitali in the rematch. Vitali was still somewhat inexperienced, especially compared to Lewis' long career.

Vitali fought with a lot of heart but he caught Lewis cold. In a return bout, Lewis would know just what to do.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Will69
This is a mystery for the ages because Lewis did come back in the final two rounds and turned things around.  But, undoubtedly, Vitali scared the hell out of Lewis.  Lewis never faced someone of that kind of freakish strength and skill and size.  Vitali beat Lewis at his own game.  The fact that Lewis retired the next day was a telling decision, a wise decision, and a disappointing decision (for fans).  I think there wasn't anything in Lewis arsenal that could overcome Vitali.  Lewis could not run away from him because Vitali had great reach and would stalk Lewis.  Lewis couldn't out maneuver him, out punch him, tie him up for long, or push him around.  Vitali has laser sharp devastating punches, like Lewis, but even moreso.

I think, however, a rematch with a fully prepared Lewis would be a great fight that would go to the score cards, if Vitali doesn't dominate him.   As well, in a rematch, Vitali would also equally prepare for Lewis - the Klitschkos usually seemed to figure out an antidote to any opponent in rematches and fought even better the second time around.  In the end, Lewis does have a chance even though I think Vitali has more of chance.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Evan Fields
Great analysis here.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

RICKY TAN
Here's a nice commentary of Lewis from around that time. It looks like Lewis predicted how Sanders would knock out Wladimir and how. He may have been losing his skill at that point but he still had ring smarts. The blog also talks about the odd decision of Lennox to slug with Vitali for the entire fight and Emanuel Steward encourgaged it. Maybe they thought Lennox would knock him out early the way he did Golota and Grant.

https://www.boxing247.com/news/trellert2906.php

To many watching the fight Lennox Lewis must have seemed anything but a champion walking away from the squared-circle with a chorus of boos haranguing him. Inside the ring the challenger Vitali Klitschko gave more than he got in an action packed fight that to most seemed to end abruptly on a technicality rather than on the abilities of the incumbent. While bitterness at the stoppage embodied most minds the more reflective members of the audience asked a far more pertinent question: Was this inferior version of Lennox Lewis on display an anomaly or the arrival of father time? The answer was vital in the grand scheme of things not only because it would signal the impending conclusion of the Lennox Lewis era, but also the end of a monumental generation of heavyweight history that began with the arrival of Mike Tyson in the mid-1980's.

Although calling Lewis' performance egregious would be an exaggeration, it is probably not too far off. Not since his fight with Frank Bruno a decade ago has Lennox performed this poorly in terms of his boxing ability. Against Vitali Klitschko he was unanimously two rounds behind on all the judges scorecards at the time of the stoppage, even in his flash knockout losses to Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall this was not the case. Almost from the start Lennox appeared amateurish in terms of stamina, punch output and punch discipline. Here we had the consistent calculating captain of caution uncharacteristically throwing wild punches as a matter of routine. What was going on here? Was this the first sign of a desperate fighter that had lost his once supreme technical abilities and was over relying on the last thing to go in his punch?

There are many reasons to think this is more of an anomaly rather than the precipitous decline of a once great fighter. Obviously, despite protestations, Lennox came in out of shape as his weight was above the norm. Secondly, Lewis was also out of action for over an entire year, which would diminish any fighter irrespective of their age. Add to this only two weeks preparation for a fighter completely different in stature and style to his previously declared opponent and you have a volatile mix of circumstances that certainly could only result in some kind of fairly dramatic decline in performance at least initially. Of course many people took this into account going into the fight and so had diminished expectations to a point, but to this extent? Sure the weaknesses in stamina and even punch output could be explained away in part to weight and fitness, but the precipitous diminishment of his technical ability? That must indicate something far more profound.

If Lennox Lewis had started off the fight as his normally well-measured self and then discarded that strategy due to desperation, fatigue or general impotence then I can understand why one would suggest he has turned the corner in regards to age. But Lewis' wild swinging and slugging it out was initiated from the opening bell and therefore would indicate something in the way of a conscious strategy. In between rounds Lewis' trainer Emmanuel Steward encouraged this and made nothing in the way of derisive complaints regarding his fighters aggressive approach. He never asked Lennox to be more measured and even told him to be aggressive and 'take it to him'. Why?

Implicitly, or perhaps explicitly, the Lewis camp wanted to take Vitali into a style of fight to which he was unaccustomed and allow Lennox's experience in this area win out. Vitali would flounder and suffocate just as a fish out of water. This as opposed to the expectedly measured jab fest appeared to be the best option from their perspective. This conclusion is puzzling as Lennox Lewis ended up taking Lennox Lewis into a fight he had never experienced before, when in his illustrious career had he ever been involved in a slugfest such as this? Now many would harken back to the classic fight between him and Ray Mercer as a case in point but this is not accurate. Yes Lennox brawled his way to a narrow victory over the 'Merciless' one but it was not he who initiated the aggression but Mr. Mercer. Lennox still fought within his usual 'comfort zone' style of counter-punching. There is a distinction between being involved in a slugfest and being the aggressor within that format. In the fight with Mercer, Lennox tended to backpedal more than his opponent, while in his last fight the opposite occurred. Against Vitali Klitschko, Lennox vacated his safety-zone and worked against his own strengths, he was the fish out of water that could hardly look anything other than awkward and lacking proficiency. Why would Lennox Lewis take such a step? As it was rationally based on the overwhelming evidence of glaring weaknesses in Vitali Klitschko. Just as in war, it is always the best strategy to attack your opponent at their weakest point.

Lennox Lewis' call to fellow Heavyweight Corrie Sanders before he went on to knockout Vitali's brother Wladimir Klitscko was no accident. Lennox had told Sanders that the Klitschko's could not handle direct pressure and would fold under it, Corrie took this to heart and destroyed Wladimir Klitschko with his unbridled aggression, Lennox had called it correctly. In previous fights in those rare moments where the Klitschko's briefly did not set the ring agenda they seemed at a loss of what to do outside their element. A good case in point was Vitali Klitschko against Chris Byrd where he had a tendency to make the defensive mistake of pulling straight back under pressure. This basic mistake not only exposes a fighter to the full extension of their opponent's punches but also allows them to retain the initiative whereas smothering the punches levels the playing field. If that mistake was not enough to exploit then most certainly the widespread view that Vitali Klitscko lacked heart most certainly was. Against Chris Byrd, Vitali was so far ahead on the scorecards near the end of the fight that all he had to do was survive against the feather fisted Byrd and retain his belt. Instead his corner chose to quit after an unapparent injury occurred and sent a signal that when the going gets tough Vitali gives up. The combination of these two factors probably made Lewis make the call to Sanders, while Sanders victory all but confirmed Lewis' observations on how to defeat the Klitschko's.

Corrie Sanders victory over Wladimir more than proved Lewis' assumptions regarding the Klitschko's. Wladimir completely folded under pressure and had no inkling of what to do under siege. What would have strengthened Lennox's conviction even more was the fact that Wladimir Klitschko was the more highly regarded of the two brothers and he was defeated by a lesser man than himself in Corrie Sanders. Clearly Lewis would be way too much for Vitali to handle especially when using a tried and true strategy that worked to perfection against the superior Wladimir. Lennox Lewis had the strategy, had the evidence that it worked, and had a large experience gap if not in that style of fighting, than at least in terms of past opposition fought. Even with only two weeks warning Lennox knew he had a slam dunk before him in fighting Vitali, there was no reason to think otherwise considering the evidence.

Of course boxing is frequently the art of the unexpected and in this case it most certainly was. Vitali Klitschko unexpectedly handled the pressure without any problems at all; in fact he was downright courageous. Although he did still tend to pull straight back under pressure (and in fact that may have seriously contributed to the damage over his eye) he also demonstrated he had a good chin and could take a punch. Despite bleeding profusely there was no hint that he was going to throw in the towel though in all honesty one could understand if he had. Lennox Lewis made a rational strategic decision based on the evidence before him; it's just that the pattern indicative in that evidence never arrived.

Although many have concluded that Lennox Lewis should now retire based on his performance, they may be prematurely jumping to a conclusion. Though his performance was clearly subpar, it may not be due to the advent of father time. A layoff over a year long, weight gain and poor conditioning all played their part, but most significant is the fact that Lennox Lewis chose to fight in a style that worked against his own strengths. Based on the evidence of the weaknesses inherent in his opponent, he chose to fight in a style that in retrospect may have seemed foolish, but in the context of pre-fight time seemed wise. A miscalculation and misinterpretation of Vitali? Perhaps, but then he would most certainly not be alone in those previous conclusions as most of the boxing press concurred. If anything Lennox Lewis always tends to learn from his mistakes, and one would expect to see a strategy adjustment in terms of any prospective rematch. If that adjustment calls for a return to his strengths, we may very well see the old formidable Lennox Lewis of the past. But if he returns to his strengths and we see a repeat performance, then its not only time for a eulogy for Lennox Lewis but also the true end of the 1990's in terms of the Heavyweight Division.

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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Will69
This post was updated on .
Lewis' strategy does make perfect sense, according to the above commentary.  The only issue is that Lewis based it all on the Klitchkos' fluke losses -not on what the Klits were good at.  (The losses were technically legit, but for Chris Byrd, Vitali had a sudden severe shoulder injury, and Sanders managed to knock heads with Wlad right after a power punch to the head (twice at least), that put Wlad in la-la-land for rest of the round.  Wlad was seeing double after that and couldn't even walk straight).
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Urban Legend
Will69 wrote
Lewis' strategy does make perfect sense, according to the above commentary.  The only issue is that Lewis based it all on the Klitchkos' fluke losses -not on what the Klits were good at.  (The losses were technically legit, but for Chris Byrd, Vitali had a sudden severe shoulder injury, and Sanders managed to knock heads with Wlad right after a power punch to the head (twice at least), that put Wlad in la-la-land for rest of the round.  Wlad was seeing double after that and couldn't even walk straight).
That's a good observation. I still say a prime Lennox beats Vitali. The Lennox of the Golota and Grant fights would have done a lot better. Those guys (and Ruddock) were threats to Lennox so he KO'd them early. Vitali would be a threat also, but Lennox was not sharp in that fight and not exactly ready, having only two weeks to train. He was not expecting what he got that fight. Vitali surprised him.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Will69
This post was updated on .
This is a favorite topic of mine.  Wlad's loss to Sanders gave the wrong impression to everybody.  Why he was rendered so incapacitated is, to recap, in a span of a split second, Wlad got smashed in the head twice (sandwiched between Sander's fist and his head), and in addition, got headbutted after that.  It happened so fast, you couldn't see it properly unless you saw it in slow motion.  What's worse is that his trainer was completely useless.  He said nothing in the rest period after the round -not even how to keep away from Sanders long enough to recuperate.  (I think the trainer was fired after that fight).

And unfortunately, Vitali had some injuries thoughout his career which prevented him from fighting as much as he could have.  So, his resume is not as long as it should have been.

A prime Lewis would have been a hell fight for Vitali or Wlad.  I do think a prime Vitali would have a slight edge though.  I think Vitali is a bit stronger than Lewis.  Lewis struggled against a few tough opponents.  As soon as Vitali became a bit seasoned, he never really stuggled against _any_ fighter of any size (except the last 2 rounds with Lewis).  And Vitali was not afraid to bring the fight to you and had the size and reach to cut the ring and get to you; so I don't think a big guy like Lewis would be able to keep Vitali away from him like he did against Tua or Tyson or anyone else.  Lewis never fought a big guy who was really great.  With average-sized great fighters, like Holyfield, Lewis could go into defence mode and then counter to "reset" himself at will.  He would not be able to do that effectively against an aggressive giant like Vitali with precision devastating punches.  Don't get me wrong.  To me, a prime Lewis had all the perfect tools a fighter could hope for, but so did Vitali and Vitali had even more freakish punching power and the reach to get to anybody.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Joe Kingman
Administrator
This is a breakdown worth checking out.

https://youtu.be/jFc5EC_BwAg

-Joe Kingman
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Sivul
In reply to this post by George Jefferson
George Jefferson wrote
I think the Rahman loss is what sent Lewis into a steady decline. He probably was at half-capacity when he finished off Tyson, so I wouldn't say its a stretch to say he was definitely past his better days, and he still did what he had to do to make sure Vitali wasn't gonna be able to finish him. Why would he let himself get punished in a rematch when he's probably more of a faded fighter than the 1st fight?

But he made himself look like an out of shape arrogant ass. There is no excuse for his behaviour in this interview. So I agree with Frank Lotierzo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d0ayGxbelQ
I can't agree with the boldest part there, bro. I can't roll with that. The best Lennox Lewis we ever saw was the one that beat up Mike Tyson. He was sharp, focused, just downright brilliant that night. It was a great tactical performance. In my opinion Lewis' best performances were against

Tyson
Morrison
Ruddock
Golota
Grant
Holyfield

If Lewis had been as focused for Vitali as he was for Mike then maybe we would have had a different fight that night.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Evolution
In reply to this post by Entaowed
Vitali was awkward and unpredictable that night. Once time Lennox nailed him with an uppercut that hurt him but when Vitali recovered he returned the favor with his own uppercut which led to the commentators correctly stating that he was "learning on the job" because he had never thrown that punch prior against any opponent.

Vitali was bigger than Lennox and doing awkward things that Lennox (and Emmanuel Steward) could not predict, and Lennox's only strategy was to go for a knockout. It was Vitali's night. He just didn't get the duke.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Duggerman
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This post was updated on .
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Duggerman wrote



Lewis was obviously washed up by the time they fought in 2003, and the one year lay-off since facing Tyson didn't help matters. I think Lewis retired because he knew he was over the hill. However, he beat Vitali fair and square. The champ was an accurate puncher. He threw a punch above his opponent's eye to open a cut and it did. In my opinion, Lewis was on the losing end when the fight was stopped, but he won the fight and finally sealed his impressive career. If they had fought again, Lewis would have lost. But the funny thing is that if they had fought a year earlier, Vitali would have been easy pickings for Lewis.
Man, I’ve changed my opinion on so much over the years and old posts like this one make me cringe. 😳 I don’t think Vitali would EVER be easy pickings for Lewis REGARDLESS of when they fought. Vitali is taller than Lewis and real awkward. If both were at their peaks I’d pick Lewis by close decision, or perhaps another TKO cut fiasco.

Regarding a rematch, actions speak louder than words. Lewis waited around and played guessing games for almost a year before retiring. What’s even more telling is his excuse in recent years....”I beat him at my worst so I didn’t need to fight him again.”

Lennox was NOT saying that initially. After the fight he almost refused to give Vitali any credit and you could tell his ego was hurt and he was embarrassed. After a few years went by, he had plenty of time to develop excuses and now sticks to the “I beat him at my worst,” narrative.

He knew Father Time and Vitali were working together to get him, so he bowed out.
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Joe Kingman
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I found this audio interview of Tyson and Lewis talking about the Vitali/Lewis battle. Lennox just wasn't prepared for the guy. No one knew Vitali was ready for that level yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlcVmwOO_cI&t=347s

-Joe Kingman
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Re: Who Would Have Won A Rematch Between Vitali and Lewis?

Entaowed
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This post was updated on .
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