'Plot your moves at the right times': Lennox Lewis interview
Ahead of an appearance at the O2 on 6 September, former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis speaks to Boxing Monthly about Vitali Klitschko, the current heavyweight landscape and a whole lot more besides...
Lennox Claudius Lewis will be at the O2 on 6 September, hosting an evening about his illustrious career.
It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for the ‘pugilist specialists’ out there to walk down memory lane with Britain’s best-ever heavyweight world champion as he talks through some of the episodes of his life which have never had a torch shone upon them before.
Seeing him today, it’s hard to believe that Lewis' last fight was over 15 years ago.
At the cuts-enforced conclusion of his classic bout with Vitali Klitschko at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles in June 2003, many were left wondering: ‘Was Vitali winning? What would have happened if the fight progressed to the later rounds?’
The 1988 Olympic gold medallist discussed this contest, and much more, with Boxing Monthly today as he begun a round of media duties to publicise his upcoming O2 appearance.
“It’s not even a case of trying to find a way to win," he began when I asked for his take on the Vitali bout. "The fight goes until the 12th round and if a man goes and punches himself out in four rounds, he’s still got eight to go. So to me, boxing is like a war. You’ve got to plot your moves at the right times.
"You don’t want to punch yourself out early. You want to attack early, save it in the middle and get him at the end. It obviously depends on what type of opponent you’re boxing. With Vitali, I knew the person I was boxing hadn’t been under the pressure that I was going to put him under for the first couple of rounds. Then, once he’d gone under that pressure... I’m going to save the rest of that story for 6 September at the O2 Indigo!”
A lovely twist on the evening is that Vitali - now the mayor of Kiev in his native Ukraine - will be in attendance that night as Lewis' special guest.
So, is a rematch on the cards?
Lennox laughs. "Let me tell you this. Me and Vitali were at his brother’s [Wladimir] fight at the time and his wife came up to me and said, ‘Why don’t you fight my husband! He’s been losing sleep over it!’ The rest of the tale I’ll tell you at the O2!”
Vitali wanted to continue in their fight, even though his cuts later required in excess of 50 stitches, but Lewis maintains there’s no hard feelings between them.
“We were always kind of friends. We’d met each other before we fought. Him and his brother came up to me after one of my fights and this was the first time I’d met them. First thing I thought, ‘Yo man. These guys are big!’ I know they were looking at me side eyed like, ‘We’re going to fight you one day.’
"As it goes, they both came at me looking for that fight as time went on. I actually wanted to fight both of them and wanted the younger one first, but got the older one, and the older one to me was the better one.”
Next up, Lewis discussed the current heavyweight landscape, starting with Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin.
“Did you see the press conference between them? It was so relaxed, that I didn’t even know they were fighting! Some other guy came over [Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller], who was challenging Joshua and that seemed like the fight that was happening.
"In terms of Povetkin, he definitely has the power to hurt Joshua and he’s been there a long time. Joshua went from the Olympics to becoming world champion soon after, going straight for the belts basically. Now, he’s beat Klitschko and Povetkin’s lost against him. So it’s all about whether Povetkin can step up to the plate.”
Interviewing Lewis at the Peacock Gym in Canning Town, it would be rude to not ask the former undisputed world champion his views on one of the gym's patrons and also one of Britain’s top prospects, Daniel Dubois. [N.B – Dubois is currently in Moscow sparring with Povetkin].
“Dubois has the tools to be the future of heavyweight boxing. With the proper management and the proper training, yes he can go all the way.”
With a huge heavyweight clash on the horizon for November, Lewis then discussed the mouth-watering match up of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
“I’m excited about it, because I think Tyson Fury has a unique style, so does Deontay. He [Deontay] throws his punches from all given parts of the planet and you never know where it’s coming from, but you know if it’s gonna come around that guard and hit you, boom, on the top of the head, that concusses you. I’ve seen him do that in a couple of fights, then he takes them out.
“I always thought it was too early for Tyson to take this fight, but the thing is, when he fought Klitschko I remember thinking, ‘Who’s he prepared to fight this guy? He hasn’t fought anybody. Just because he beat a few of these guys in the warm-up fights for Klitschko, doesn’t mean to say he’s ready for him.’
"Well, Tyson surprised me. He showed up. He showed up to win. He showed up to fight and you could see that on the night. In answer to the question, ‘Is he ready?’ He will be ready.”
Lewis finished the interview with a little sales pitch for his event on 6 September.
“People should come because I can bring them down memory lane. I can tell them about fights they didn’t hear about. By being there, it’s like being in a movie and feeling a part of it. I want people to feel a part of it. My good friend Russell Peters is coming and will definitely tell a lot of funny jokes about what happened in my history, because he was also a part of it and used to come to the fights.”
For further details about the event at the O2 with Lennox Lewis, please click on the link below.