Lennox Lewis to host 'Undisputed' show on golden age of heavyweights

Lennox Lewis dominated the heavyweight division for about 10 years before retiring. Matthew Stockman/ALLSPORT

Lennox Lewis was the finest heavyweight of his generation, a veteran of a decade at the top. He held the world title on three separate occasions before officially walking away in 2004 and now he is back under the neon lights to tell his story.

Lewis will host an evening called Undisputed at the O2 in London in September and take his loyal fans on a glorious trip down boxing's memory lane, back to what was a golden period for the heavyweight division and the last time the big men of the sport mattered in America.

"I will take the fans behind the scenes and share things that I have never spoken about," promised Lewis. "I will talk about all the big fights from a great time in heavyweight history, with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno and even Vitali Klitschko.

"I will take fans back to a time when heavyweight boxing was great, really great. I will take them back with me to that time and the public will get to ask the things they have always wanted to. It will be the undisputed night of heavyweight talk."

Lewis was awarded the WBC heavyweight title in May, 1993 after Riddick Bowe vacated and made three defences before a shock loss to Oliver McCall in September, 1994 at Wembley Arena. He regained the title by stopping McCall in February 1997 and made nine defences before losing in another shock to Hasim Rahman in South Africa four years later.

"There was a lot of what I call "politricks" in boxing then and I was always having to clear hurdles -- nothing was simple, but I just kept winning," Lewis said.

An immediate rematch was made for later in the year in Las Vegas, and during the promotional tour the boxers were involved in an ugly brawl in a television studio.

"When I had that fight with (Hasim) Rahman in the studio, he was wearing a great big chain around his neck and I grabbed it at one point. It came off, and I ended up with it back in the green room," Lewis said.

"I sent a message to him that if he wanted it back, then he could come and see me and get it for himself. I was ready, but he never came and I just gave it to him -- I didn't want anybody to say I took it, you know, like I stole it. I knew right then that I had him, he was mine in the second fight. There are a lot of tales that people have never heard and that is why I'm doing the show in London," continued Lewis, who regained the title for the third time when he knocked out Rahman in round four in November 2001.

In June 2002, Lewis finally got to fight Mike Tyson at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee and that had been a fight he was desperate for.

"I needed that, I needed to show I was the King and I never wanted that fight -- a fight between me and Tyson -- to become a great debate. You know, a fight where people ask: Would Lewis win, would Tyson win? I wanted to be King." In Memphis that stormy night Lewis ruined Tyson in eight rounds.

After the Tyson fight there was just one more ring appearance, a brutal and bloody six-round slugfest with Vitali Klitschko in June 2003. It was called off after six rounds, Klitschko's face had been transformed into a grisly mask of cuts and slits. Klitschko always wanted a rematch, but six months later Lewis made his retirement permanent and official.

"Vitali's wife always asks me: 'Please, give Vitali one more chance.' No way, I said I was done, and I was done."

Klitschko is one of the surprise guests that Lewis has planned for the Undisputed show at the O2.

He left the sport with 41 wins, one draw and just two defeats, both avenged. He also left the sport as the King, the last great heavyweight. And now he is watching the heavyweight carousel with interest as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder circle each other.

"They each have good points and need to be respected; Joshua has a terrific right hand, Wilder's right will hurt you if it lands anywhere near your head and Fury is difficult to get to and hard to hit," Lewis said.

"If I had to box any of these guys I would prepare differently for each, working on tactics and I would have to get a serious plan. Absolutely, I would beat them -- I don't go in there to lose, I never got in there to lose."

Lewis did have trouble securing one fight, and he blames Riddick Bowe and Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, for the fight never taking place. Bowe held the world title twice but, interestingly, only held it for six months at the same time as Lewis held his version; Wilder and Joshua have each held a version of the world heavyweight title concurrently now for 28 months.

"That fight needs to happen or they will regret it forever," warned Lewis. "I have to give respect to Fury for wanting and agreeing to the Wilder fight -- we wanted to see that from Joshua, but I also know how hard it can be to make a fight happen -- especially if one side just keeps making crazy demands like Bowe and Newman did.

"All fights can be made. People just have to make it happen, but ridiculous requests and demands can make it not happen."

In the 1988 Olympic final Lewis had stopped Bowe, the rematch was talked about for years and never got close.

Lewis was open to every fight, every reasonable suggestion and for 10 years he was there, ready and willing to fight the contenders, the pretenders and the clowns. His two shocking defeats and the powerful rematch wins helped make him the last great heavyweight and his honesty now makes him unmissable on the stage.

"We all need to find out who the King is -- right now there are three Kings and that suits me because it still leaves me as King," insisted Lewis.

He is right.

Undisputed: An Evening With Lennox Lewis takes place on Thursday Sept. 6.