Lennox Lewis believes Evander Holyfield is the toughest opponent he has fought in the ring in his illustrious boxing career, not Mike Tyson or Vitali Klitschko.
Brit Lewis, the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, faced them all, but his two fights with Holyfield in 1999 are heavyweight legend.
Although their first fight ended in a contentious draw, Lewis avenged what he and everyone else thought was a robbery by claiming a unanimous victory over the ‘Real Deal’.
And, while he admitted that no meeting with Holyfield was his toughest fight, he admitted that the former undisputed cruiserweight champion was his tough test.
“People seem really surprised when I tell them [Holyfield] was my toughest opponent, not to be confused with my toughest fight, which was [Ray] Mercer, but when you really understand why, it makes a lot of sense. ” the 54-year-old wrote on Instagram.
“Holyfield, like me, has a rich amateur pedigree which has served him well throughout his professional career. He started boxing at age eight and was an Olympic bronze medalist in 1984. Before moving to the heavyweight division, he was a man who erased the cruiserweight division to become the undisputed champion, and arguably the best ever, in this weight class. .
“It’s a lot of experience and it’s safe to say that by the time we met for the undisputed heavyweight championship in 1999, he had seen it all. When you combine Evander’s amateur and professional experience, you’d be hard pressed not to see the kind of success he’s had in the ring.
“I can tease him a bit about our two fights, he knows I won both fights even though he won’t admit it, but in all fairness he’s the only man to have played 24 rounds with me.
Both men gained extensive pedigree before reaching the pro ranks, although it was Lewis who excelled in heavyweight by beating players like Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko and Oliver McCall to confirm his status as the best of his time. .
But the West Ham-born fighter owes his career at the top of the sport to his years in gyms across Canada as an amateur.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of the amateur experience,” he wrote. “Think of amateurs as your internship with the pros. The more you learn about your trade, the better it will serve you.
“The vast amateur experience of Evander and I has taken us to the top of our games. In a sport where there are no guarantees, and even a mistake can end in disaster, it is important to play the odds. So while we have both had setbacks in our careers, there was very little chance that the success we were looking for in the sport of boxing would not be achieved based on our experience.
Download the talkSPORT app and listen to a massive night of heavyweight action this Saturday, complete with live and exclusive radio commentary from Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce, followed by live and exclusive coverage of Mike Tyson’s return to the ring vs. Roy Jones Jr