Unlike Bowe, Lewis wants to defend his by belting the best

Phil Jackman

April 14, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Frank Maloney, the promoter who works for Lennox Lewis, approached the owner of 33 percent of the heavyweight championship of the world and asked him if he would be interested in duking it out with Larry Holmes one of these fights.

"You're kidding," came the reply from Lewis, who isn't into using a title for fame and fortune if in the long run it's going to hurt the game of boxing (it says here).

"The heavyweight division gets enough criticism," says Lennox, not wanting to hazard a guess as to what percentage of it might be justified. "But it's up to us, myself and [Riddick] Bowe, as young champions to prove the critics wrong."

Lewis, who holds the World Boxing Council version of the crown, has a pay-per-view fight coming up against Tony Tucker in Las Vegas May 8. Tucker carries a record of 48-1 and is rated as the top contender by the sanctioning body.

A couple of weeks later, May 22 at RFK Stadium, Bowe, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champ, takes on Jesse Ferguson. Fergy, who resembles a bridge abutment, is 18-9 and, prior to being granted this shot at a handsome payday, was rated somewhere in the high 20s or low 30s.

"It's quite apparent after fighting Michael Dokes and with this [Ferguson] fight that Bowe wants to go the easy route," says Lewis. "But that's OK. Sooner or later he'll lose the respect of the public while I'm gaining it. That's when they'll start saying, 'Lewis is out there waiting on him, why isn't he fighting him?' "

It's to be expected that when a guy wins the championship, he'll go shopping, find an extremely low-risk opponent and cash in quickly. Maybe he can even get away with doing this a couple of times if he brings something special to the promotion and the designated hittee isn't too bad a fighter.

Presently, the Lewis camp is convinced, Bowe plans on indefinitely conducting his ring business against a cast of

long-shot tomato cans. After Tucker, Lewis already has a fight lined up against Frank Bruno in September, then wants another title defense before the year is out, according to his promoter.

There was talk of a Bowe-Lewis rematch of their meeting for the 1988 Summer Olympics super-heavyweight gold medal in Seoul, but Maloney says it was phony.

Of Bowe's manager-promoter Rock Newman, he says, "Rock likes to tell little white lies, I guess to get the press off Riddick's back after the Dokes fiasco.

"We accepted the terms for a fight, but haven't heard a word since from Newman. That was months ago. Meantime, what Lennox wants to do is fight the best people available."

Lewis wouldn't even entertain the thought of fighting the 43-year-old ex-champ Holmes, who posted his third win this year by beating Ken Lakusta in the fistic hotbed of Bay St. Louis, Miss., last night. The same does not hold true for the eventual victor in the George Foreman-Tommy Morrison fight in June, however.

"The winner there would be creditable," says Lewis.

No, the glamour division of boxing isn't at its zenith at the present time.

A lot of fans look at the title Lewis fell heir to, that of the WBC, and snicker, believing what the Bowe people said as they cast the belt into the garbage.

"Shows you the kind of people they are," says Lennox, never letting his emotions get the best of him. "When he beat Evander Holyfield [for the unified title], it was the first belt he picked up."

Bowe and Newman didn't want to be dictated to by the WBC, though, and the power play worked against the WBA and IBF, apparently. The sanctioning bodies haven't uttered a word about Riddick's following up the Dokes bout with a stroll in the park against Ferguson despite having mandatory defense rules, too.

"Watch," said Maloney, "Michael Moorer will be named No. 1 by the WBA sooner or later and it will say that Bowe has to defend against him. Riddick will probably dump that belt in the bin, too, as he's proved time after time he doesn't want to fight any No. 1s."

Maybe the worst thing Lewis did as far as his finances are concerned is flatten Razor Ruddock inside three minutes. Ruddock had an aura about him, putting up two decent fights against Mike Tyson and walking around with probably the single most devastating punch in the division, a left hook.

No doubt a Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis bout will come to be sooner or later and when it does, the money involved will be in the stratosphere. Let's give Rock Newman credit. There's no moss growing on this guy's north side. He'll all but dictate the intensity of the public outcry for the match and when the time is right, whammo, another "Fight of the Century," the 15th such since about 1980.

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