BoxingMike Tyson

Lennox Lewis was told Mike Tyson would be his EASIEST fight before their heavyweight clash in 2002 in Memphis

In 2022, it will have been 20 years since the much anticipated fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. Where has the time gone?

Lewis, the last unified heavyweight champion of the world, dominated and stopped ‘Iron Mike’ in the eighth round of what proved to be a mismatch in Memphis.

The Lion exploited his seven-inch height advantage on Tyson to retain his titles and destroy the legend of the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’, whose last professional fight came just three years later.

But was he ever scared of his opponent?

He said: “Yes and no. Yes, because TV made him look like King Kong,” he told the Guardian in 2020.

“But no, because Manny [Lewis’ trainer Emanuel Steward] always told me Tyson would be my easiest fight.

“I’d say: ‘Come on, now. He’s going to be a little difficult.’ But Manny said: ‘No. It’s your easiest fight.’”

Lewis had plenty of reasons to be fearful due to Tyson’s violent attitude in the build-up, starting a brawl at their New York press conference and even threatening to eat Lewis’ kids, although he didn’t have any at the time.

Tyson returned to the ring in November 2020 – for the first time since 2005 – with a draw against Roy Jones Jr
Tyson returned to the ring in November 2020 – for the first time since 2005 – with a draw against Roy Jones Jr

“Lennox Lewis, I’m coming for you,” Tyson warned his rival in 2000 after finishing Lou Savarese in 38 seconds. “I’m the most brutal and vicious and ruthless champion there has ever been.

“Lennox is a conqueror? No. I am Alexander. He’s no Alexander. I’m the best ever … My style is impetuous, my defence is impregnable and I’m just ferocious.

“I want your heart. I want to eat his children.”

Looking back on those comments, Lewis admits he was happy to let Tyson do the trash-talking.

“When he said he’s coming for me, I’m like: ‘He’s coming for me? He’s crazy. Doesn’t he realise I’m coming for him?’” Lewis added.

“When he said he’s going to eat my kids my mum said: ‘What’s he talking about? You don’t have no kids.’

“I’m not into that vulgar jailhouse talk.”

Their eventual meeting had been years in the making, stretching back to their teens when they sparred together in Catskill, New York and legendary trainer Cus D’Amato predicted the two would become champions.

“We got to know each other pretty well. We spoke, we went down to the town, went to a dance together.

“He was a giant because during training in the Catskills you’d watch him knocking people out easy. I thought he was great. When the time came I knew we would meet in the ring. I wanted to know if what Cus said would come true.”

What an era this was for boxing fans.

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