x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lennox Lewis will fight Klitschko for $100m

Former heavyweight champion says he only needs six months to make sensational return to ring at age 48.

Lennox Lewis, seen in this 2001 picture, has not fought in a decade. AFP
Lennox Lewis, seen in this 2001 picture, has not fought in a decade. AFP

Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed world heavyweight champion, would be happy to make a sensational return to the ring to face IBF, WBA and WBO titlist Wladimir Klitschko – but only for US$100 million (Dh367m), the biggest purse in boxing history.

Lewis, who turned 48 last month, last fought professionally over a decade ago, but told the Daily Mail he would be ready to step back into the ring with only six months of training on the condition that he is paid over double the purse that was guaranteed to Floyd Mayweather Jr in his victory over Saul Alvarez last month.

Lewis says he was offered $50m to end his retirement while he attended Klitschko’s uninspiring unanimous decision victory over Alexander Povetkin in Moscow at the weekend, but would need double that to spring into action.

“That is my price tag and it is under discussion,” Lewis told the Daily Mail. “I have told them I can be ready in six months and I am in provisional training.

“I said at the time that it will take $50m to get me out of my pyjamas but now I have to consider the value of my legacy of having retired as undisputed champion. That will cost them $100m.”

Lewis had always maintained he had no interest in making a comeback since retiring after beating Klitschko’s older brother Vitali in June 2003 in controversial circumstances, retaining his WBC title when the fight was stopped after the sixth round in Los Angeles.

The Ukrainian had a deep cut above his left eye but led on the judges’ scorecards when officials ruled he could not continue. In the referee’s opinion the cut had been caused by a punch, which meant that Lewis was automatically declared the winner.

A much-hyped rematch never materialised, but Lewis would be more focused on a fight with Wladimir should he decide to return to the ring.

“I beat Vitali so I would like to fight the other brother but we’ll see how it works out,” he said.

sports@thenational.ae