Lennox Lewis Legacy - Boxing Article

Lennox Lewis Legacy Boxer Boxing Article

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Lennox Lewis Legacy

By Simon Harrison

“There’s no way I could ever beat him. He’s just too big and too strong. I’m just glad he didn’t kill me. He’s a magnificent fighter.”

The words of a drug free; free thinking; lucid speaking Mike Tyson; after the bout with Lewis.

High praise indeed from a fighter who despite massive flaws; knows his boxing history. So after his retirement where do you place Lennox in heavyweight history? Below is my take on the 12 other ‘Greatest Heavyweights’ and how Lewis compares to them;

James J Jefferies; It is hard enough to compare fighters who fought within 10 years of each other, let alone in this case 100 years, but here goes. Jefferies was tough; he had a rock solid chin and would have been the first heavyweight champ to retire unbeaten, if not for and ill thought out comeback against Johnson. Jefferies was a national hero who dominated the division for 10 years, and turned back some serious opposition like Corbett (twice), Sharkey and Jackson.

His domination was greater than Lewis, because he avoided walking into embarrassing KO defeats. But he drew the color line, for certain opponents, but I would like to think, this was due to social pressures rather than Jefferies own doing.

Verdict: Jefferies was greater.

Jack Johnson; Johnson got the better of the majority of the bouts he had with the cream of the ‘black contenders’ from the turn of the century. Then finally managed to get a bout with Burns, and won the heavyweight Championship. Victories over Jefferies and a strange one with Ketchel, highlight his reign, but it should be noted his 7 year reign, was when he was past his best.

Eventually, lost the title to Jess Willard in 1915, age 37. But from 1905 to 1915 Johnson was the premier Heavyweight on the planet. The overall quality of opposition and the longer domination give Johnson the edge over Lewis...

Jack Dempsey; brilliantly managed and promoted by Kearns and Rickard, Dempsey was the sporting icon of the 1920s, beating ‘Babe’ Ruth, into second place. History was made in his bout with Carpentier (the first $1million grossing bout), the bout with Firpo, was voted the finest moment in SPORTS for the first half of the 20th century. And his destruction of Willard was chilling.

Verdict; Dempsey’s iconic status, gives him the edge.

Joe Louis; 26 title defences, a reign that stretched for nearly 12 years, and despite the infamous ‘bum of the month’ campaign, fought the best the Heavies and Light Heavies had to offer. Also was the first fighter (that includes Johnson), not to use the ‘Color line’.

Verdict; Louis was greater

Rocky Marciano; 49 and 0; some numbers!!! Of course it actually should 56-4-1, but that’s a different story. Marciano reigned for three and a half years and beat some decent if some what old opposition in Charles, Moore and Walcott. And of course Charles and Moore were best at 175. Before he won the title also pounded Louis into retirement, which despite Louis’ age was still an excellent result, remember ‘The Rock’ was the betting underdog.

Was he greater that Lewis? Well I'm going to answer yes. Again he was an icon of the 50s, and a god to this day amongst the Italian Americans. And remained unbeaten as a Heavyweight though out his career, a feat not achieved by any Heavyweight World Champion.

Sonny Liston; Victories over Williams, Foley and Patterson. Robbed by D’Amato of showing his skills in his prime. Forever remembered by the mainstream for the Ali/Clay bouts; fights that were fought when Liston was 5/6 years past his best. Also the first man on the list, who could physically compete with Lewis.

Who was greater? Lewis; Lennox dominated the division for longer, and also had a much longer prime, fighting beating everyone who mattered in his domination period, unlike Liston.

Muhammad Ali; Dominated the mid 60s, showing skills never seen in a Heavyweight, remained unbeaten in that period. Came back in the 70s and proved to be the Greatest Heavyweight, in the Greatest Heavyweight period. I don’t think I need to go on…….

Verdict; Ali was greater

Joe Frazier; The first man to beat Ali, despite his physical limitations, Frazier was ‘The Man’, for six years. Wasn’t quite at the absolute top level of heavyweight greats, as subsequent defeats to Ali and the two blow outs against Foreman showed, but still a superb fighter.

Was he greater than Lewis? No; Lewis was competitive with every fighter he met, his length of domination was the equivalent of Frazier, but overall he met better opposition in that reign (Holyfield, Tyson). And fought all the top contenders, unlike Frazier who pretty much took two years off post Ali in 71.

George Foreman; Destroyed Frazier and Norton in the golden era of the 70s, an era perhaps where he was second only to Ali. Came back in the 90s to regain the Heavyweight title age 45.

Now unless Lennox comes back in 10 years time and……. Foreman was greater.

Larry Holmes; Champion for nearly five years, still a contender in his mid 40s, showed the ability to rise from devastating knockdowns and win bouts, and holds victories over Ali and Norton.

Holmes was at or near the top of the division from; off and on 77 to 95, Lewis cannot compete with that; Holmes was greater

Mike Tyson; Brought life back in to a dying division from 86 to 88. But for all his domination, he was only World Champion for 18 months. Never beat a truly world class heavyweight at or near his peak.

Lewis was greater, his opposition was much stronger, and unlike Tyson he avenged defeats.

Evander Holyfield; Holyfield was the Heavyweight of the 90s he got at least a draw over every Heavyweight that matter in that era; Bowe, Tyson, Foreman, Lewis and Moorer.

Holyfield was greater, he met stronger opposition.

So there you have it, I put Lewis #10 in my All-time Heavyweight lists.

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