Lewis hooked up with Davenport in April of 1989. "The first thing I noticed about him was that he is a great athlete," says Davenport. "Most boxers aren't. Most couldn't hit the ocean if they were standing on a pier."
Almost immediately after Lewis teamed with Davenport, a group of British money men lured them to England with a six-figure signing bonus. "I arrived in London shortly after Mike Tyson knocked out Frank Bruno," says Lewis. "Everyone was saying, 'Oh, wasn't our Frank very brave.' He was a hero. I thought, Good Lord, what will they do if they have a winner?"
Lewis's reception in the land of his birth was not very warm. "It was weird," says Lewis. "In England they said I had an American accent and that I was a North American. In America everybody always said I had an English accent and that I was English. I couldn't win."
"Maybe the English would love you if you lost a fight," Davenport says sarcastically. "They do seem to love a loser." Davenport's dislike for England and the English has not made his job with Lewis any easier.
Lewis, who is on the verge of finally moving up in class, may learn soon how his current countrymen like him as a loser. "When we started out we all agreed we should move Lennox slowly," says Davenport. "But even rich backers like those guys in England, when they see their checks going out and nothing coming in, they get nervous."
So Lewis will be fighting bigger names for bigger money in the near future, and it's about time. All of his first 13 fights were scheduled for eight rounds or fewer. In October 1990 he was jumped up to fighting Chanet for the European championship over 12 rounds. Fortunately for Lewis, Chanet was France's version of Humpty Dumpty, and he was stopped in the sixth. Gary Mason, an undefeated British heavyweight who can't fight a lick, tried to come back after suffering a detached retina and fought Lewis for the British heavyweight title last March. Lewis sent him into retirement with a sixth-round technical knockout. Then came Weaver. And then came McCrory, whom he stopped in the second at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Weaver fight provided a glimpse of where Lewis stands and where he might be headed—even though it was Weaver's first bout in a year, he hadn't beaten a name fighter since 1981 and that one's name was James (Quick) Tillis. Against Weaver, Lewis showed he has a good hard jab, though he doesn't use it often enough. His right hand is major league, but again too often in wraps. He can be mobile, but he spends too much time motionless. Two jabs and a very long right hand did the weary Weaver in at 1:05 of the sixth.
Lewis now has a five-fight package deal—two bouts to be shown on HBO and three to be carried by Time Warner's pay-per-view operation, TVKO. Lewis will fight in a prelim on the Evander Holy-field-Mike Tyson card in Las Vegas on Nov. 8, and will appear at the Royal Albert Hall again in December. Tyrell Biggs may be next. Also, Frank Bruno has just been cleared by the British Boxing Board for a comeback. "To be taken seriously, he has to go in against me," says Lewis. "If he doesn't, he has no hope of going anywhere in boxing again." That certainly seems true.
And after Bruno? Perhaps Bone-crusher Smith or Tommy Morrison or Ray Mercer or a rematch with Bowe. Those nervous money men across the pond have even been heard to mutter, "Holyfield" and " Tyson." Dear, dear, dear. If that lot has its way, forget the Queen; God save Lennox Lewis.