Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Champ Lewis expected to retire

Boxer calls news conference for today to announce decision

February 6, 2004


— Looks like Lennox Lewis is ready to do what no heavyweight champion has done in nearly half a century: leave boxing with a championship belt around his waist.

The 38-year-old Lewis will hold a news conference today amid reports he will retire rather than risk his World Boxing Council title in a rematch against Vitali Klitschko.

Secretive to the end, Lewis was keeping his decision to himself. His trainer, Emanuel Steward, did not return calls. But Lewis has made no effort to meet a March 1 deadline set by the WBC to set up a fight with Klitschko, and the consensus among the boxing fraternity is that he will retire.

Lewis hasn't even told HBO what he plans to do. The television network paid him tens of millions to fight and has been waiting for months for him to commit one way or another to a second Klitschko fight.

"We have had no contact with Lennox or his representatives," HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said. "We're standing by."

Assuming Lewis does end his 14-year career, he will become the first reigning heavyweight champion to quit since Rocky Marciano in 1956.

Lewis would leave a legacy of big wins over Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, but also a reputation for aloofness that never allowed him to connect with boxing fans outside of Britain and Canada, where he grew up.

A heavyweight who stood 6-foot-5 but had the boxing skills of a smaller man, Lewis won an Olympic gold medal for Canada and went on to win the heavyweight title three times.

Lewis, though, fought infrequently in recent years, winning a huge fight with Tyson in June 2002, and stopping Klitschko on cuts last June in Los Angeles.

Lewis looked ragged against Klitschko. The champion took big shots to the head and trailed on all three scorecards before the ring doctor ordered the fight stopped at the end of the sixth round because Klitschko was bleeding badly.

If Lewis retires, Klitschko would meet No. 2 contender Corrie Sanders for the WBC title.

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