Lennox Lewis’ claim that he would be willing to make a comeback at the age of 48 – for a whopping $100 million – has been dismissed as nothing more than a joke.
The back pages of several English national newspapers on Thursday morning carried stories in which former heavyweight titleholder Lewis states he is ready to return to the ring – with a shot at all-conquering RING champion Wladimir Klitschko apparently on the Englishman’s radar.
There were even quotes to support the idea. In The Sun, it was revealed Lewis has already been offered $50 million by Russian promoters to face either Wladimir or the Ukrainian’s older brother and WBC holder, Vitali, who is 42, but Lewis told them he wanted double that sum.
“The offer from the Russian group wasn’t a joke. It was very real,” Lewis reportedly said to The Sun. “They asked me, ‘Is there a comeback? Will it take ┬ú30 million?’ I said, ‘No, it would be ┬ú60 million.’ They are now thinking about it.
“There is an awful lot of money around in that country for high-profile sports events. I retired as the heavyweight champion of the world. That is my legacy. If they want me to risk it, then the price is ┬ú60 million.”
The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph also had similar reports and quotes. In the Mail, Lewis even spoke about why he wanted to face 38-year-old Wladimir, who last weekend retained his RING, WBA, IBF and WBO belts with a hefty unanimous decision over Russian Alexander Povetkin, rather than Vitali, whom he beat in Los Angeles in July 2003 in what was to be his last outing.
However, it now seems that Lewis’ sensational comments were taken too seriously by the English media. A source inside the Brit’s camp revealed to a number of UK radio stations on Thursday afternoon that the 1988 Olympic gold medal winner was merely having a laugh when asked if he would ever fight again – and there is absolutely no chance of Lewis making the most lucrative comeback in boxing history.
It has certainly helped create a blaze of publicity for Lewis as he launches his new campaign to unearth, train and manage future heavyweight titleholders, though. From next Monday, Oct. 14, wannabe stars in the division are being invited to visit the website www.insearchofchampions.com, and register their interest, with a video, in being groomed for the top by Lewis.
“I would urge all fighters, who believe they have what it takes to make it further down the line, to log on to my website,” said Lewis, who plans to establish a gym in London to go with ones he already has in Canada and Jamaica. “This is a very real search around the world to find boxers who have the potential and the talent but maybe not the right direction or knowledge.
“I’ll make sure they train correctly and have the right motivation to reach the top in the hardest game in sport. Me and my team will take a long, hard look at the videos and invite those with the most potential to a training camp – and see what happens from there.”
And in case that still left questions regarding a comeback, Lewis turned to Twitter: “A hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question does NOT equal reality #NoComeback,” he tweeted, adding, “I’m not stepping back in the ring but I AM looking for the next crop of new talent!”
Photo by Jeff Gross-Gettyimages
Follow Harry Pratt on Twitter: @gharrypratt