Leaving nothing to chance
Lennox Lewis vows to take matters into his own hands
Posted: Saturday November 13, 1999 12:55 AM
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Lennox Lewis still gets irritated by criticism that he was too cautious when he fought Evander Holyfield to a controversial draw.
He wants the bout out of the judges' hands on Saturday night.
"I hear everybody said I won the fight, but I should have knocked him out," said Lewis, a slight favorite to win the rematch. "That takes the science out of the sport. It's about hitting without being hit."
Despite 27 knockouts on his 34-1-1 record, the WBC heavyweight champion often is criticized for his caution. That was the charge against Lewis in the fifth round of the first fight in March when many thought he let the WBA-IBF champion off the hook.
"That bothers me," Lewis said, "because you're talking about a man [Holyfield] with two belts, a man who beat Mike Tyson twice. I saw what he did with Riddick Bowe and Michael Moorer. They had him hurt. I'm not going to take any chances."
Lewis was referring to Holyfield's decision over Bowe in the second of their three fights and his technical knockout of Moorer in their rematch.
Both fighters appear in good shape for the bout at Thomas & Mack Center. Holyfield said he had stomach cramps before the first fight and leg cramps during it. Lewis contends Holyfield was making excuses.
The 6-foot-5 Lewis weighed 242, four pounds lighter than he was for the first fight. The 6-21/2 Holyfield weighed 215, two above his weight on March 13.
Because of Lewis' height and reach advantages, Holyfield's best chance of winning is to fight inside. Getting inside can be risky.
Asked if the champion from Britain was the hardest puncher he's faced, the 37-year-old Holyfield said, "I don't rate people on punching power, because all the big guys hit hard."
As for Holyfield's power, the 34-year-old Lewis said, "Evander doesn't knock anybody out with one punch. He knocks you out with 15 punches. I'm not afraid of one punch."
Those 15 punches, however, can come in a roaring stream, because when Holyfield senses he has an opponent in trouble, he is an excellent finisher.
Lewis has talked in circles about how he plans to fight the rematch, but he was probably on the mark when he said: "I'm not going to try to knock him out in the first, second or third rounds. I'm going to build up to it."
He also said, "But if a chance for an early knockout presents itself, I'll take it."
His critics want to see that.
The last champion to hold all three belts was Bowe, who won them on points from Holyfield on Nov. 13, 1992. Bowe had relinquished the WBC title rather that fight Lewis. So only the IBF and WBA belts were on the line when Holyfield won a decision in the Fan Man Fight on Nov. 6, 1993.
The fight is one of four title bouts on the TVKO pay-per-view show that begins at 9 p.m. EST. The main event is expected to start about midnight EST.
Referee Mitch Halpern and judges Chuck Giampa, Bill Graham and Jerry Roth were appointed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. All live in Nevada.
In the first fight, Eugenia Williams of New Jersey (115-113 for Holyfield) was appointed by the IBF; Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa (116-113 for Lewis) was from the WBA; and Larry O'Connell of Britain (115-115) represented the WBC. Arthur Mercante Jr. of New York was the referee.
The other three bouts are for WBA titles.
Lightweight champion Stefano Zoff of Italy will defend against Gilbert Serrano of Venezuela; super lightweight champion Sharmba Mitchell of Takoma Park, Md., will fight Elio Ortiz of Venezuela; and cruiserweight champion Fabrice Tiozzo of France will meet Ken Murphy of Chicago.