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Lewis-Klitschko 2: Division Needs It, But At What Cost?
By Aaron Imholte (June 15, 2004) 
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Surely by now you have heard the rumors. Vitali Klitschko may or may not be saying that former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is very much interested in a rematch that would be worth tens and tens of millions of dollars. From a fans standpoint it is a homerun, a must have, the fight that will rejuvenate the heavyweight division for at least a little while. From a purist, or a historians standpoint however, there are many question marks that need to be answered before we start licking our chops at the prospect of this fight.

Is Lennox going to be in shape? We are hearing reports that he has ballooned to almost 300 pounds since retiring in February. At the age of 40 will he have the desire to get back into fighting shape? Even the shape he was in for their first fight would be a challenge to get to from 300lbs. I don't think anyone but the extreme Lennox haters want to see him come into the ring flabby ala Larry Holmes circa 2000, and get beaten to a pulp by a fit and determined Klitschko. A) It would prove nothing; and B) there would be even more skepticism towards Klitschko if he struggled with an out of shape Lewis. Lennox needs to come in shape for this fight, or not at all. Please don't add any more confusion to this already convoluted division.

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What if Lennox wins? People are banking on the fact that Klitschko will tame the lion and be crowned the linear world champion and thus put the 'who's the man' arguments to rest. But say he doesn't; say Lewis comes in fit and surprises a few people by beating Klitschko and grabbing the belt again. Then what? Does he defend it until he loses it? Does a Joe Mesi caliber fighter come along when Lewis is 42 and knock him out to become the linear heavyweight champion? How long would the heavyweight division need to recover from that kind of embarrassment?

Suppose Lennox wins the fight, becomes the champion, and retires immediately? The confusion gets even worse then it is now. As of now Klitschko is looked at as the only good, watchable fighter amongst the four champions. If he is somehow exposed by Lewis, who is left? None of the four belts carry anymore weight then the other if this scenario comes to pass. Then let the alphabet soup madness begin... again.

The only thing that would be good for boxing is Klitschko beating an in-shape and game Lennox Lewis decisively to officially usher in the new heavyweight era. Anything else could toss us into even more confusion and create even more contempt and hatred of the heavies. This seems like an awful big risk to me.

Maybe I'm playing the devil's advocate here. But you cannot just look at it from a dollars and PPV ratings standpoint. Sometimes you have to think outside the box and wonder 'what if?' Use your head and really break down every possible scenario to decide whether this is worth it. I personally would love to see this fight, but we should have seen it three months ago, minus a Lennox Lewis retirement. Now there may be too many question marks and too many roadblocks in the way for this to be the kind of attractive bout many think it to be. I'm warning you, don't let your knee-jerk boxing fan reaction get the best of you. Ask yourself, is the confusion and boredom with the division we have now better than the confusion and contempt we could have for the division later if this fight does NOT go as many are planning it to go? If this fight does take place, will it be a case of it being just too late?
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