With his recent victory Lennox Lewis not only knocked Mike Tyson out of the intrigue business but also completed such a sweep of the heavyweight division that it brings everybody back to squared circle one. Put it this way: The next heavyweight bout likely to create any kind of interest will be the July 27 fight between 52-year-old Larry Holmes and Eric Esch, the 350-pound novelty act better known as Butterbean.
The simple problem is, there's no one left to challenge Lewis. Most of the names that you've heard of in this division are boxers Lewis has beaten once ( Hasim Rahman) or twice ( Evander Holyfield). The No. 1 contender is Chris Byrd (33-2), a smart, tricky fighter who, sadly, doesn't bring out the fans. After him Lewis might be cajoled into meeting Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko (34-1), who's similarly proportioned to Lewis, but the interest in two Europeans is unlikely to generate anywhere near Lewis's recent take of $25 million. Everybody else in the Top 10 has already had his chance ( David Tua and Michael Grant, to name two) and come up wanting. Given the bleak field, the 36-year-old Lewis just may call it quits.
At least there are some interesting alternatives. This weekend featherweights Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera square off in a sequel to what many think was the 2000 fight of the year. In July we'll be treated to a dynamic welterweight bout in Sugar Shane Mosely vs. Vernon Forrest. In September it'll be junior middleweight Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas. With the marquee division in the doldrums, the lighter side of boxing holds out more than a little bit of hope.