Lewis peppers foe with verbal jabs
World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis isn’t wasting any time promoting his July 12 title bout against Henry Akinwande at Caesars Tahoe.
“To tell you the truth, I think it’s going to be a great show. I’ll definitely be prepared, but I can’t say how long it will go,” Lewis said. “I think he has great ability, but I don’t think (his handlers) have too much confidence in him, or else they would have put both belts on the line.”
Akinwande of Dulwich, England, dispatched Jeremy Williams for the World Boxing Organization crown last June but surrendered his title belt in order to meet Lewis.
The 6-foot, 8-inch Akinwande has yet to lose in 33 professional bouts, but the 6-5 Lewis thinks he has the heart and skill to flaw the record.
“Akinwande has a great jab, right hand and long legs. But he thinks he can come test Lennox Lewis. Someone is going to pay, so I believe Akinwande is going to pay,” said Lewis, 30-1 with 25 knockouts.
Lewis has become accustomed to negative publicity – most recently over the career-high 251 pounds he carried into the second Oliver McCall bout.
“My weight didn’t hamper me in any way. Basically, I come in what I feel comfortable at,” Lewis said. “The first time I went straight after McCall and they criticized me, saying I should have peppered him with my jab. This time I took my time and just manhandled him. I’m going to get criticized no matter how it goes.”
Lewis has set up camp in Big Bear, Calif., and has enlisted trainer Emanuel Steward to prepare him for Akinwande. Steward also trains Oscar De La Hoya, but doesn’t feel either fighter is being shortchanged.
“There’s a totally different time spot for Lennox, where he gets undivided attention,” Steward said.
Lewis sounds disappointed that he has yet to meet Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield or Riddick Bowe.
“They don’t want to fight Lennox Lewis and that is the ultimate compliment in the boxing profession,” he said.
To gain the undisputed heavyweight title, the London native knows that void in his career will have to change.
“My main goal right now is to prove to the world that I’m the undisputed champion of the world. You have to keep your hopes high, and as long as I try my best and take every challenge that comes my way, it can be done,” Lewis said.
As for the retired Bowe, Lewis didn’t waste an opportunity to try and lure the former champ back into the ring.
“Bowe’s mother says she would hate for me to hurt him or put him in the hospital. I thought there was some stuffing still in there for Lennox Lewis, but I think she made the right decision for him.”
Doors to Tahoe’s first heavyweight title bout open at 1 p.m. A yet-to-be decided undercard begins at 2 p.m. The Lewis-Akinwande bout is tentatively set for 4:15 p.m. and will be televised by HBO.
Ticket prices are $75, $125, $175 and $250. For ticket information, phone Caesars Tahoe at 1-800-648–3353 or Bass Tickets at (916) 923-BASS.
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