DaddyLiveHD - Watch Live Sports Streaming Free, Daily Schedule Online TV Channels, Boxing & MMA, UFC, MBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, Soccer, 24/7 updated live stream, Enjoy Football

Former undisputed king Lennox Lewis talks Fury vs. Usyk: 'Don't take him lightly'

0

The road to anointing an undisputed heavyweight champion this century has been long and arduous. For that, you can blame ego, rival promoters and a multitude of governing bodies, among other things. Finally, on May 18, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk will hold the distinction for the first time in 25 years.

On November 13, 1999, British boxing legend Lennox Lewis won a unanimous decision over the great Evander Holyfield to claim the undisputed crown in Las Vegas. It didn’t come easy. Robbed of victory over Holyfield in their first fight, which ended in a contentious draw eight months earlier, it took Team Lewis 24 rounds with “The Real Deal” and perhaps 1,000 rounds of exhausting negotiations with his opponent’s promoter Don King to reach the summit.

“It was one of these trips that you’re taking up the hill and you realise that it’s not a straight road,” said Lewis in an interview with assembled media. “There’s going to be a lot of bumps and twists to reaching the top. They didn’t believe me when I did it the first time, so I had to do it again. It wasn’t an easy road, but I made it.

MORE: SN’s top-12 heavyweight boxers

“We shouldn’t be surprised [that it’s taken so long to have another undisputed heavyweight champion]. When you put all the belts together, a lot of the promoters don’t like that because all the belts are in one place and they don’t get to bring their heavyweight around. For them, it’s better that it’s split up. The organisations don’t want that, either; they want to be able to move around. The only one that really wants undisputed is the guy who’s boxing for it and working towards it.”

Lewis was a goal-setter and a winner. Once his enormous success as an amateur bled into the professional ranks, the targets became bigger and more ambitious. The hard-hitting Londoner was also blessed to be in a golden era and he avoided no one.

“I aimed to be the number-one guy in the sport because everything I did was leading up to this point,” said Lewis. “I wanted to be Olympic champion and I actually went twice [Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, where he won gold]. I wanted to be British champion. I wanted to be European champion. I wanted to be world champion. The last thing was undisputed champion. After I’d become undisputed champion, I’d won everything and I can rest.

“I waited for [Mike] Tyson so there would be no argument about who was the best in this era. I didn’t want there to be anyone sitting in the barbers, getting their hair cut, saying, ‘Who’s the best? Oh, Tyson is the best! Holyfield is the best! Lewis is the best!’ I ended my whole career showing the world that I am the best of that era.”

The two Brits to succeed Lewis as world-title winners in the glamour division were Fury and Anthony Joshua. While Joshua is still in the mix at elite level, it is Fury who is wrapping up preparations for an undisputed title clash against the man who beat AJ twice.

Lewis acknowledges Fury’s abilities now, but, like many boxing insiders and fight fans, he initially missed the trick. Ironically, it was Lewis’ late, great coach, Emanuel Steward, who tipped Fury for world domination when “The Gypsy King” was still a raw novice.

“I took a bit of convincing,” admitted Lewis. “Manny had that special talent; he could recognize talent before everyone else. And as you can see, [with Fury], what he was saying came true.

“I think it’s a good time for [Fury]. Everyone can see his shape and the fact that he’s taking [Usyk] a lot more seriously than the [Francis] Ngannou fight. And he should take it seriously because it’s a big title and this is what he wanted: to be undisputed champion of this era. Both guys are great champions, both guys are winners, and it’s too bad that there can only be one champion.”

Usyk has already made boxing history, following Holyfield as only the second man ever to claim undisputed honours at cruiserweight before moving north. While lacking the natural size of a modern-day heavyweight, the Ukrainian wizard proved to have the requisite skills to defuse Joshua and win the unified crown in 2021. The following year he repeated that triumph and immediately targeted Fury.

“I think Usyk’s gonna use his mobility, move erratic around the ring, and get Tyson moving as well,” Lewis opined. “I think Tyson is gonna feint a lot and try and get Usyk out of his game and, hopefully, get Usyk to commit. When he commits, take advantage of him.

“The fact that he’s undisputed at cruiserweight and now he’s moving up to try and be undisputed at heavyweight, that’s a great achievement. I don’t think people realise what that means. Don’t count him out because he’s a winner and he knows how to win. You can’t take him lightly.”

MORE: Who are undisputed heavyweight champions?

Lewis wouldn’t commit to picking a winner during this media call. However, the Hall of Famer did predict a points win for Fury when he spoke to TalkSport earlier in the week. But regardless of what transpires in Riyadh, Lewis didn’t hesitate when asked if Fury still needs to punch-swap with long-time rival Joshua.

“Yeah, I think he does need to fight him because it’s a British thing,” said the former three-time heavyweight champ. “I’m sure the British fans want to see that matchup, and throughout history, that’s always been the plan. There’s always been a big British fight between two enormous heavyweights.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there, especially after the [Joshua]-Ngannou fight, saying, ‘Oh, what about Anthony’s right hand? It’s back and he looked great!’ But Ngannou is not the same kind of boxer Tyson Fury is. Tyson Fury is a way different fighter. When you look at [Joshua’s] one-two, is that gonna hit Tyson Fury? Maybe not in the first couple of rounds. Maybe [it lands] in the last couple of rounds. You never know how the fight’s gonna go. That’s what makes the fight so exciting to watch because you have two different styles that are gonna clash and everybody’s wondering what’s gonna happen.”

For now, Fury vs. Joshua is on the back burner. All the world’s attention is on the battle for undisputed.

Watch Fury v Usyk, ‘Ring of Fire’ live from Riyadh on TNT Sports Box Office on Saturday 18 May. For more info visit: tntsports.co.uk/boxoffice

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More