His promoter, Dan Goossen, tried to excuse Tua's poor effort, saying that the fighter had suffered a rib injury in training two months earlier and that Lewis had aggravated it with a body blow in the second round. Goossen's comments drew boos (mostly from the British press), a little incredulity (Two months ago? And wasn't Tua's best round actually the third?) and a sharp rebuke from the champion's trainer, Emanuel Steward: "I had a boxer named Tommy Hearns who fought Marvin Hagler with a hand broke in two and wouldn't use it as an excuse, told me don't say anything about the hand [because] it would detract from Hagler's victory. Let's leave this injury alone and talk about the fight."
But what was there to say, except that Lewis was a lot better than Tua? Lewis's drawing power did not grow with this fight and probably won't with any of his next bouts. Through no fault of his own the holder of the IBF and WBC titles (the WBA version is held by Evander Holyfield, whom Lewis once defeated and once dominated in a highly questionable draw) is going to be plunged into a series of meaningless and relatively unprofitable defenses. After making $8 million for this fight, Lewis will have to take a big cut to fight somebody like Kirk Johnson on HBO, probably in Canada. Legends are hard to make that way (although it will help if Lewis knocks the guy out).
The one fight that could make Lewis rich (well, richer; he has already earned tens of millions) and heroic is a Mike Tyson bout, but that remains problematic, to say the least. Although Tyson acquitted himself ably in his recent fight with Andrew Golota, the broadcasting rights to a showdown with Lewis are still a matter of squabbling: Tyson boxes for Showtime, Lewis for HBO, and it might be hard to negotiate a truce between the cable rivals.
Lewis, to his credit, is willing to wait out the senseless politics. Although he's 35, ordinarily an advanced age for a heavyweight champion, he is confident enough to predict an even longer reign. No take-the-money-and-run for him. "I'm in this for the long run," he says, "a couple of more years."
That is encouraging to hear. A cautious man might opt for a safer line of work. But somebody who's determined to show the world his arsenal might want to stick around. A guy like that deserves at least another look.