Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko in line for a rematch of their controversial first meeting

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It was the fight that, even in victory, convinced unified heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis to hang up his gloves - and now reports suggest that Lewis will once again do battle with Vitali Klitschko later this year, only this time, in an exhibition match.

The pair first faced off in June 2003 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, in a bout for Lewis' WBC, IBO and Ring Magazine heavyweight championships.

Lewis would win the bout by technical knockout after Klitschko suffered a gruesome cut above his left eye that saw him ruled unfit to continue after six rounds.

The stoppage was particularly cruel as most observers felt that Klitschko had dominated the contest.

Indeed, at the time the bout was halted, the Ukrainian led 58-56 on each of the judges' scorecards.

The California crowd present on the night roundly booed the call - and Lewis would subsequently promise to give Klitschko a rematch.

That return bout would never materialise, however, as Lewis announced his retirement from the sport in February 2004 - having not fought since the Klitschko fight.

Many have speculated that it was his poor performance in the Klitschko fight that prompted Lewis to call time on his career.

According to World Boxing News, though, an exhibition bout between the two former champions is set to take place at the 56th annual WBC convention in Kiev in October this year - and Vitali opened up on the reasons behind a second bout never having taken place in a professional ring.

Lennox Lewis hits Vitali Klitschko

"I showed my skills and I beat him but they stopped the fight and I was really upset," recalled Klitschko.

"Lennox was very happy, but after the fight Lennox told me, 'Don’t worry, I promise you I give you rematch and we will fight again' but, we made negotiation and Lennox invite me to his office in London to sign the contract, the fight contract for the next fight."

Curiously, though, that meeting in London did not feature Lewis' legal advisers, but rather his mother.

Klitschko was surprised by the turn of events - and ultimately believes that she was responsible for persuading Lewis to abandon plans for a rematch.

Lennox Lewis celebrates

"I come to his office I was really surprised Lennox was not alone, (he was) with his mom. We talk about the next fight, I guess two hours and (Lewis') mom doesn’t say one word....They scanned me with the eye, and the mom from Lennox was bigger and wiser...I know his mom was always in camp, mom was always by Lennox’s fights.

"I leave the office, Lennox calls me and told me, 'Vitali, sorry, I no fight you', and I understand. His mom don’t like me and tell to Lennox, 'Lennox, better not to fight Klitschko again.'"

Klitschko would eventually rebound from his disappointment over the snub from Lewis, going on to win the final 13 fights of his career - before retiring as the reigning WBC heavyweight champion in December 2013.

The loss to Lewis some 15 years ago is still a sore point for Klitschko and he will surely relish the chance to face his old foe again - even if it is under exhibition rules.

Vitali Klitschko
Lennox Lewis

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