Emmanuel Steward has been telling us for months that Lennox Lewis had the potential to be one of the great all time heavyweights. On the night of Nov 17th we finally saw the type of devastating heavyweight Steward had always envisioned. Lennox fought with an inspiration and focus that arises only against a foe that he deems to be worthy. On such nights Lewis appears to be nothing but the epitome of the heavyweight destroyer. Razor Ruddock, Tommy Morrison, Andrew Golota, Michael Grant, and now Hasim Rahman have all been gunned down like gangsters in a drive by shooting. Lennox Lewis displayed the talent, determination, and punching power of a truly great heavyweight in regaining the heavyweight championship of the world. Lennox joins an elite group of Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Evander Holyfield as the only men to regain the linear heavyweight title.
Against Hasim Rahman we saw an aggressive Lennox who came out and backed his man up with a powerful left jab. Lennox jab is the best I have seen in the heavyweight division live or on film since the days of Joe Louis. It was said the Joe Louis left jab was equal to an ordinary heavyweights right cross. No less could be said of the left jab of Lennox Lewis on the night of Nov 17th. As early as the first round Lennox buckled Rahman’s knees with a left jab to the chin. His jab also opened a cut over Rahman’s left eye. After two rounds it was apparent the story of the fight thus far was Lennox Lewis jab. Lewis ramrod like left is what set up the devastating knockout that eventually came in round 4.
If Lennox jab was a hammer that pounded his opponent like a nail on the head, then his awesome right was the wrecking ball that brought down the house. Lennox has one of the most powerful right hands in heavyweight history. It is not an unfair comparison to state that Lewis right hand is the equal of men such as Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Rocky Maricano, Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey. Lewis has proven that his right can absolutely annihilate any heavyweight he can hit cleanly with it. Men weighing 230, 240 plus pounds have been chopped down like a lumberjack laying his axe to the root of a tree. One right hand from Lennox can leave the ringside announcers screaming “T-I-M-B-E-R.”
Lennox has also proven he is not a one-dimensional fighter, but has shown exquisite boxing skills. Against Evander Holyfield he showed an improved defense and ability to fight well on the inside and the ability to neutralize his opponents strong left hook. In his bout with the heavy-handed David Tua he outclassed his opponent with superior boxing skills from the outside. It is from long range where Lennox truly shines. Lennox has the ability to dominate fighters by keeping them at arms length with his accurate and powerful jab. It is from this punching range that he also launches his sizzling right cross. Lennox strengths, his long powerful left jab, his crushing right hand, and his ability to move, box, and set up his opponents make him comparable to the great fighters of the past.
If there is a knock on Lennox it is the quality of his chin. He has been knocked out twice by strong inside punchers, Oliver McCall and Rahman in their previous encounter. The record also shows however that he has avenged both of those defeats. Many other great heavyweights have been knocked out. Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield have all suffered knock out defeats. Of the “all time greats” only Rocky Marciano can claim to have never lost, and among the other heavyweight champions of history only Gene Tunney and Muhammad Ali have never been knocked out (Ali took a beating but never left his feet versus Holmes). As Lennox has said this is heavyweight boxing and anyone can get knocked out on a given night.
How does Lennox compare to the all time greats? Lennox has the powerful jab and the devastating right of a Joe Louis and the size and technical skills of a Larry Holmes. Lennox can command the ring center, and is a mobile boxer who can outfox, out-think and outbox most any foe. Lewis is like chess champion who can command the ring with the same consummate skill as Bobby Fischer had over the chessboard, or likewise he is also capable of attacking with the intense ferocity of a Gary Kasparov dominating his opponents in the opening, through the middle-game and finishing them with a thunderous combination. Indeed Lennox Lewis at his best is a threat to any all time great boxer one cares to name.
The only thing left for Lennox to prove is a victory against Mike Tyson. Certainly Tyson is a puncher of rare power who can knock out anyone he can reach. Lewis-Tyson will be the final deciding factor in rating both Lennox and Iron Mike’s place in heavyweight history. A win over Tyson validates Lennox as one of the premier champions of all time, whereas a loss would elevate Tyson. This is a huge match when it comes. Both men are devastating punchers and no one expects a distance match. The early prediction here is for Lennox to avoid the early bomb and frustrate Tyson from long range with his jab ala Tua. Lennox punishes Tyson over the course of the fight and wins by a late round knockout. I won’t be shocked if it goes the other way, as one well-timed bomb by Tyson can do the trick, as we know. If Lennox destroys Tyson he has a legitimate claim to greatness. As Mills Lane would say, “Let’s get it on!”