Like some tale dragged from the depths of 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not' footlocker, Vitali Klitschko, now officially retired from the sport he dominated for a decade, has suggested that a rematch with Lennox Lewis was much closer to happening than fans of the sport knew.
The retired Ukrainian former heavyweight champion-turned politician was being interviewed during last weekend's International Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend.
In an interview with Randy Gordon of Sirius/XM, Klitschko revisited the 2003 fight in which he lost to Britain's Lennox Lewis in what was Lewis' last professional fight.
Makes sense, being that the lowdown came from this weekend’s International Boxing Hall of Fame weekend, which saw Vitali Klitschko (45-2) head up the current class of retired pugilists.
Randy Gordon of Sirius/XM queried the boxer turned politician, who gained mad fans with his losing effort to Lennox Lewis in 2003.
Some of you will recall that we the media pestered Lewis (41-2-1) all the time in the ensuing years, asking if and when he’d be coming back. Not gonna happen, he always insisted.
While Lewis consistently denied that his gloves were hung up for good, a rematch was much closer to happening than the Briton let on.
According to Klitschko: “Lennox Lewis after the fight promised to give me rematch, and I very appreciate I have a chance to fight the great champion, great fighter that’s Lennox Lewis.
"I show my skills and I beat him, but they stopped the fight and I was really upset, Lennox was very happy."
The fight was legitimately stopped, irrespective of what the huge Ukrainian may now recall 15-years on.
There was no controversy. An out-of-shape Lewis used his experience and ring craft to pulverise his opponent, and by the seventh round, Klitschko was cut so badly the referee had no option but to stop the bout.
“But after the fight Lennox told me ‘Don’t worry, I promise you I give you rematch and we fight again’, but, we make negotiation and Lennox invite me to his office in London to sign the contract, fight contract for the next fight.
"I was surprised. Lennox tell me, “Please we talk together just you and me, don’t bring the lawyers, don’t being anybody, we talk together."
He further elaborated the he did visit Lewis at his office in London to discuss the potential of a rematch.
"I come to his office I was really surprised Lennox was not alone, with his mom. We talk about the next fight, I guess two hours and mom doesn’t say one word. They scanned me with eye, and the mom from Lennox was bigger and wiser…I know mom was always in camp, mom was always by Lennox’s fights."
He finished his story by saying: "I leave the office, Lennox call me and told, “Vitali, sorry, I no fight you” and I am understand. His mom don’t like me and tell to Lennox, “Lennox, better not to fight Klitschko again. Yeah, I was a little bit upset but anyway thank you for Lennox, he gave me chance to prove my skills against best boxer in my career.”
The truth is somewhere in the ether.
What is fact is that during his illustrious career, Lennox Lewis never fought a rematch against an opponent he had already defeated. And having beaten Klitschko fair and square, Lewis also had nothing to prove nor gain from a rematch.
So wisely, Lewis chose to stay retired from boxing, as one of Britain's greatest heavyweights. His record of 44 fights, 41 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw speaks for itself. As does the fact that during his career he stopped some of the world's top heavyweights including Mike Tyson and Evander Hollyfield.
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