Lewis gives himself high marks in win

May 08, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Will the real Lennox Lewis please stand up?

The World Boxing Council heavyweight champion has a perfect 25-0 record as a professional, and won every round from challenger Phil Jackson Friday night before finishing his virtuoso performance with a knockout at 1.35 of the eighth round.

And yet, the handsome British boxer with the polite manners remains an enigma to fight fans and boxing writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Justifiably, Lewis, 28, gave himself high marks for his demolition job on Jackson, who, if nothing else, proved he has a sturdy heart in climbing off the canvas three times during the lopsided ++ match before referee Arthur Mercante wisely stopped it.

"I wanted to look devastating and show the American public that there is more talent to Lennox Lewis, the fighter, than they have seen," said the champion, who was unmarked during the bout.

"I put it all together. I made excellent use of my height and reach advantage by using my jab to set up my right hand, and showing great patience when I knew I had him hurt."

Ah, but there's the rub. Despite his total dominance, many ringsiders felt he should have made quick work of Jackson, a raw slugger who looked every bit a 10-1 underdog.

Lewis and his entourage have been ultra-sensitive to criticism by American boxing writers.

Initially, he was labeled a "paper champion," anointed by WBC president Jose Sulaiman after Riddick Bowe trashed his championship belt in a symbolic gesture.

Lewis' stock soared with his lightning second-round knockout of Razor Ruddock in October, 1992. But it fell just as quickly with his uninspiring 12-round decision over Tony Tucker a year ago.

More damage control was needed when Lewis looked quite amateurish against Frank Bruno in Wales last October. Bruno battered him for six rounds before Lewis found his British rival's porcelain chin.

But the latest criticism came from one of his countrymen.

"Yes, he looked quite impressive overall," veteran London ring writer Colin Hart said late Friday night at Convention Hall. "But who was Phil Jackson? And why didn't Lennox finish him after knocking him down in the first 30 seconds of the fight?

"It really wasn't until the fourth round when he began to show all his boxing ability, countering and landing his combinations. But can he wait that long against a superior opponent?"

Even Lewis concedes he needs a Michael Moorer, the current International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association champion, former champion Bowe or a comeback-minded Mike Tyson to bring out the best in him.

His next scheduled challenger, journeyman Oliver McCall, hardly seems to fill the bill. Only the IBF poobahs seem eager to witness this mandatory match.

"I need to unify the heavyweight title to get America's respect," Lewis said.

For that, he will need Moorer in the opposite corner.

Promoter Dan Duva said he held fruitful meetings with TVKO president Seth Abraham and representatives of both Lewis and Moorer before and after Friday's fight.

"I don't see any real problems in working out a deal for a unification match," said Duva, who holds promotional rights to both champions.

But Moorer, who only two weeks ago wrested the two titles from an ailing Evander Holyfield, isn't eager to settle matters quickly.

"[The media] keep hounding me," Moorer said. "I need to relax and enjoy my title. I'm not going to do what makes you happy. I'm going to do what makes me happy."

A likely scenario has Moorer fighting former champion George Foreman this fall.

Foreman, 45, working as a ringside commentator for HBO, yelled "fix" when Moorer was awarded a 12-round decision over Holyfield.

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