Lennox Lewis knows a little bit about Vitali Klitschko, having fought the elder Klitschko brother in his final fight in 2003. And he also has followed closely the career of Wladimir Klitschko as both a television analyst and boxing fan.
So who does he think is the better of the two?
“Obviously the older one is always the better one,” he said on a conference call to promote the Vitali Klitschko-Odlanier Solis fight Saturday in Germany on Epix. “He’s the most awkward in my book. He’s long and lanky and uses that length, his height, very well. He also throws good combinations. He knows how to keep you off balance. It’s definitely Vitali.”
Vitali Klitschko gave Lewis all he could handle when they fought at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Lewis winning by a technical knockout when a cut above Klitschko’s eye ended the fight after six rounds.
Lewis had been preparing to fight 6-foot-2 Kirk Johnson when the Canadian pulled out late in the promotion because of an injury. He was replaced by the 6-7 Klitschko, whose height, reach and ability proved formidable.
“It definitely was a hard fight,” said Lewis, who will do the analysis for the new premium television network’s first venture into boxing. “The guy was hard to figure out. And when I say figure out I mean he wasn’t easy to hit. He was way taller than me and had longer arms than me.
“The last major opponent before that was (the 5-10) Mike Tyson. To adapt to (Klitschko), to his different qualities such as height and reach, was a challenge to me. A big challenge. It was one of my toughest fights.”
Klitschko left no doubt: That WAS his toughest fight.
“I never met so strong an opponent as Lennox Lewis,” he said. “… It was the hardest fight of my career. I appreciate Lennox giving me the chance to prove my skills against the strongest boxer of all time.
“I have a lot of experience as an amateur and a professional and I can say definitely that Lennox Lewis was the hardest fight of my career.”
No fighter benefited from a loss more than did Klitschko, whose strong performance greatly enhanced the perception of him as a major talent.