posted on Jun, 13 2003 @ 01:44 PM
Associated Press - June 10, 2003
LOS ANGELES (AP) - At 6-foot-5, heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis usually punches down at his opponents.
When Lewis defends his WBC and IBO titles against Vitali Klitschko on June 21 at Staples Center, he'll be looking up at his target.
``It definitely will take some adjusting,'' Lewis said Tuesday. ``That's what I say about styles making fights. I believe I'll be ready for
Lewis was supposed to fight Kirk Johnson this month and Klitschko later in the year, but that changed when the 6-21/2 Johnson tore a chest muscle in
training last week.
The 37-year-old Lewis, not far from the end of his outstanding career, decided over the weekend to take the bout with the 6-8 Klitschko despite the
Lewis has fought a few others in Klitschko's height range.
And what did he get from that?
``That they ain't as good as me,'' Lewis replied.
Trainer Emanuel Steward said he doesn't see the difference in the fighters as a problem because of Lewis' ability and experience.
Besides, Steward said, Lewis will be motivated by an opponent that tall.
``I think the fight's going to be over early,'' Steward said. ``He has been more effective fighting guys taller than him than shorter. Klitschko is a
nice guy and a good fighter. This is just a class above what he's used to competing against.
``I think if Lennox comes out and makes him fight a tough physical fight, the fight won't go over five rounds.''
The 31-year-old Klitschko is the No. 1 contender for Lewis' WBC heavyweight title and was scheduled to fight Cedric Boswell on the undercard of the
Lewis-Johnson bout. The Klitschko-Boswell bout was canceled.
Assuming Lewis and Klitschko had both won, it was expected that they would meet in the fall.
``It was unfortunate, but the situation came up,'' Lewis said, referring to Johnson's injury. ``I thought this was a great opportunity to show how
great I am, how I can adjust.''
Lewis (40-2-1, 31 knockouts) hasn't fought since successfully defending his WBC-IBF crown by knocking out Mike Tyson in the eighth round in Memphis,
Tenn., on June 8, 2002.
Klitschko (32-1, 31 knockouts) thought he had a deal to fight Lewis in April. Lewis wanted to fight a rematch against Tyson instead, but Johnson was
scheduled when Tyson didn't agree to it.
Lewis previously had agreed to meet Klitschko by December to stop litigation over whether Lewis owes him a mandatory title defense.
Lewis, 14-2-1 in title fights, said he was more motivated to meet Klitschko that he was for a fight with Johnson.
``Because of his size, the fact that he's been trying to take me to court to get my title in court,'' Lewis said. ``The fact that his promoter likes
to see his name in the paper.
``He's been asking for this fight for such a long time. Here it is. He's going to get it, full force. Who else can he box against that has my power,
my style, all of my equipment?''
When asked about another bout against Tyson, there was silence on the phone line.
``I think you have the answer right there with the silence,'' Lewis finally said.
Lewis also made clear his feelings about the heavyweight division when he said: ``I could be around for a long time if I choose.''
Lewis said he could answer the question concerning how many more fights he'll take after facing Klitschko.
Lewis and Steward both acknowledged that a bout with Roy Jones Jr., is a good possibility at some point in the not-too-distant future.
``He said he's a heavyweight, let him prove it,'' Lewis said of Jones. ``I think it would be intriguing to the fans, intriguing to me because he
believes in himself. I'm here - I'm the king of the heavyweights right now.''
Should Lewis and Jones meet, Lewis would have a huge size advantage - much greater than Klitschko has over him.
The June 21 fight card will be broadcast live on HBO.
[Edited on 13-6-2003 by Ocelot]