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Lennox Lewis Expected To Announce Retirement Today
LONDON, ENGLAND –Lennox Lewis, who endured a star-crossed run as heavyweight champion, is expected to announce his retirement Friday, according to a British radio report.
According to BBC Radio Five Live, the 38-year-old Lewis plans to call it quits after a 15-year career that has seen him spend almost 10 years as champion. A news conference is expected here Friday.
Kronk Boxing publicist Carlos Llinas told SportsTicker that Lewis’ trainer, Emanuel Steward, declined to comment on the report but did reveal that Steward is “dealing with a major story” and “may have more to say in a couple of days.”
Lewis would be retiring with boxing’s most important division in shambles. Former middleweight Roy Jones Jr. holds the WBA title with no intention of defending it. Interim champion John Ruiz and IBF titleholder Chris Byrd are unattractive champions who would have trouble headlining a card.
Lewis, 41-2-1 with 32 knockouts, has not fought since June 21, 2003, when he rallied to stop Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko on cuts after six rounds. Facing mounting pressure to defend his WBC title and possibly give Klitschko a rematch, Lewis has been noticeably absent from the spotlight.
Amid conflicting reports earlier this year, Steward said his fighter would make a decision in the very near future. The WBC helped speed along that process with a 30-day window to agree to terms with Klitschko.
“This news hasn’t come as a great surprise to the boxing fraternity,” boxing analyst Duke McKenzie told the radio station. “Lennox has earned a (heck) of a lot of money from boxing and he doesn’t have anything more to prove to anyone now and it is the right decision.”
Lewis, who won the gold medal for Canada at the 1988 Olympics, broke into the pro ranks in 1989 and was awarded the WBC title in December 1992, when Riddick Bowe surrendered the belt.
Having not won the title in the ring was the first in a series of question marks in Lewis’ career. He never fought Bowe and faced fellow champions Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson well past their primes.
Lewis also faced intense scrutiny when his first title reign ended after 16 months as he was knocked out by lightly regarded challenger Oliver McCall.
Lewis regained the title in February 1997 and added the WBA and IBF titles in November 1999, when he beat Holyfield in a rematch. The two had fought to a controversial draw eight months earlier, a bout most felt Lewis had won.
Lewis cruised through 2000 but once again opened himself to criticism when he was knocked out in the fifth round by Hasim Rahman in April 2001. While filming a cameo in the movie “Ocean’s Eleven” at the time, Lewis was accused of not taking his title responsibilities seriously.
Lewis’ questionable chin left the possibility that he could be dropped in any fight. But he dominated many of his bouts, wearing down opponents with size, power and skill.
Lewis regained the WBC and IBF portions of the title against Rahman in November 2001 but fought just once in 2002, dismantling Tyson in a bout that failed to live up to expectations.
Lewis also fought just once in 2003, getting battered early by Klitschko before cutting up the challenger and forcing the stoppage. While the public clamored for a rematch, Lewis may have caught a break as Klitschko needed time for the severe cuts to heal.