Lennox Lewis on the Riddick Bowe fight that never happened and the saga brewing between Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder & Tyson Fury
The biggest fight to not happen in the 1990’s was between Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe.
They fought for the gold medal in the super heavyweight division at the 1988 Summer Olympics with Lewis stopping Bowe in the second round. It seemed natural for them to one day to cross paths inside the ring as professionals.
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Things were trending in the right direction in 1992. Bowe became the undisputed heavyweight champion in November 1992 after defeating Evander Holyfield and Lewis became the mandatory challenger for the WBC title with a second round TKO over Donovan “Razor” Ruddock one month earlier.
Negotiations had taken place for Bowe to avenge the loss and for Lewis to prove the Olympic result was no fluke. But the unthinkable happened in December 1992 when Bowe dumped the WBC belt into a trash can at a press conference in London and said he was relinquishing the title because he didn’t want to be intimidated by the sanctioning body to face Lewis.
The fight never ended up coming to fruition and one that still stirs emotions from the bitter rivals 26 years later. The former three-time heavyweight champion and the division’s last undisputed titleholder says he knows 100 percent why the battle to determine the sport’s best heavyweight didn’t happen.
“(Bowe’s manager) Rock Newman did not want his golden child at the time, who was creating wealth for him, to take that chance and fight the guy who beat him at the Olympics in 1988,” Lewis told Sporting News. “I know that if it was up to Riddick Bowe to make that chance, I think maybe he would have chose to fight me because we’re warriors and gladiators. That’s what we do. But when your manager keeps you away from the guy that beat you, he’s speaking without using any words.”
Lewis paused for a moment and then added: “When you are always hearing from the manager and not hearing from the fighter and the manager is saying, ‘Oh yeah, we made them offers and did this and did that’. You know that means nothing.”
Fast forward to 2019 and the same instance appears to be happening between unified champion Anthony Joshua, WBC titlist Deontay Wilder and lineal champ Tyson Fury. Wilder and Fury battled to a thrilling split draw in December, while negotiations are ongoing between the two for a rematch in late spring/early summer. Joshua’s talks with the Fury and Wilder camps have come to no avail thus far.
Boxing fans and pundits feel this situation is comparable to what we saw between Lewis and Bowe. While Lewis doesn’t disagree with the assessment, the 53 year old feels Joshua, Wilder and Fury should be doing the talking and not their managers and promoters.
“I see the similarities except that there’s no Rock Newman around to blurt out and shout out and say that we are really trying to make the fight, but these guys don’t want to fight and we offered them money,” Lewis said. “That’s an old story. Everybody and their dog knows the truth.”
“It’s interesting because really the fighters are the ones who should be talking it up. The fighters talk and they can solve this problem quick. Anthony Joshua said he would fight Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in 2020 or something like that. I was actually shocked that he did say that. Why would he say 2020? Why wouldn’t he want to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship this year? Why are saying that like there’s no rush. There was a rush to get the first set of belts. So why wouldn’t there be a rush to be undisputed champion? I just found that odd.”
Lewis retired in 2004 after defeating Vitaly Klitschko by sixth round TKO in June 2003 in a fight that’s still considered one of the bloodiest in recent memory.
One of hotly contested debates has been how would have the man who many think is the best of his era that includes Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bowe fair against Fury, Joshua and Wilder. Lewis didn’t give a straight answer, but breaks down the way he fought compared to the current styles of the three.
“I’m not one to cross eras,” Lewis said. “I am a pugilist specialist. My game was my arsenal to control my punches in the moment. My thing was to be to a boxer that boxed on the inside and the outside. When I went in the ring, I didn’t want anybody to watch out for just one punch. They would have to watch out for a combination of punches, so they didn’t know which punch was going to hit them.
Lewis added: “Mostly, guys right now, I think are labeled with one weapon. Deontay has an unbelievable right hand. He depends on it and people look out for it because that’s what’s coming. I slowly see him developing his hook, which is good. Anthony Joshua is working on his boxing. He has a terrific right hand with good defense. Then you look at Tyson Fury – a great boxer, great mover and elusive. You got all these combinations with these different fighters. Styles make fights as we can see with the Tyson Fury and Deontay fight.”
Article Found At – Sporting News