Lewis: Fight Will Be Full of Action
NEW YORK (AP) _ Michael Grant is a big man with a huge opportunity.
To Lennox Lewis, that’s enough to make Grant dangerous when he challenges for the heavyweight title Saturday night.
``This is the only chance in his life he is going to get this opportunity, and this is what he has been fighting for,″ Lewis said. ``It’s going to be a real action fight because this is the only chance he’s got to prove.″
The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Grant steps up in class to fight for what should be the undisputed heavyweight title when he meets Lewis in a scheduled 12-round bout at Madison Square Garden.
Boxing politics took one piece of the crown from Lewis, but there can be little doubt that the winner of Saturday’s fight will be recognized as the best heavyweight.
``The statement I want to make to the public is just that I’m the No. 1 guy,″ Lewis said. ``I’m the main guy out there and all the other guys come second.″
Lewis is a 2 1/2-1 favorite to retain the IBF and WBC versions of the title in his first fight since winning the undisputed titles last November from Evander Holyfield.
The 34-year-old Lewis brings experience, boxing skills and power to the fight. He also brings a reputation for playing it safe into a fight against Grant, a bigger man who promises to be the aggressor.
``I hope so,″ the British champion said. ``Then it will make it a short fight.″
With Lewis standing 6-5 and weighing 247 pounds at Thursday’s weigh-in, the two boxers combine for the biggest heavyweight fight, sizewise, in boxing history. They total 13 feet and 497 pounds between them, topping the previous highest combined weight for a championship bout of 488 3/4 pounds when Primo Carnera (259 1/2) defended the title with a 15-round decision over Paulino Uzcudun (229 1/4) on Oct. 22, 1933.
The fight itself won’t be as big, however, with several thousand tickets still unsold in the days before the bout and pay-per-view prospects questionable.
Part of the reason behind that is both fighters are enigmas, with Lewis retreating out of the public eye between fights and doing little controversial to sell tickets.
Grant, meanwhile, comes across as a nice guy with an almost bookworm look behind his wire rim glasses. Only the most dedicated fight fans, however, knew him prior to his 10th-round stoppage of Andrew Golota last November that got him the title bout.
``This is the biggest fight of my life,″ said Grant, 27, who began boxing only six years ago while playing football at a junior college. ``I fought my way into this position. I feel my time has come.″
Grant (31-0, 22 knockouts) will get some $4 million for the bout to about $10 million for Lewis (35-1, 27 knockouts). He also gets a chance to put himself in the heavyweight sweepstakes with a decent performance, even if he loses.
Grant had to come back from two first-round knockdowns and was trailing badly when he dropped Golota with a right hand to win his biggest fight to date. Against Lewis, he’s not likely to get such a chance late in the fight.
Lewis, since losing his WBC title by a shocking second round knockout to Oliver McCall in 1994, has been known as a cautious fighter who won’t take chances if he thinks he is winning a fight.
``You have a man 250 pounds trying to knock your head off and you have to be serious about that,″ Lewis said.
Grant had complained in the days leading up to the bout that he couldn’t fit his left hand into the Reyes gloves mandated by the champion. He tried on 16 pair of gloves and couldn’t make a fist in any of them.
With the title shot at stake, though, he kept trying on gloves until he finally found a pair to fit Thursday.
``The gloves don’t make any difference unless he has the biggest hands in the world,″ Lewis said.
The telecast will begin at 9 p.m. EDT and include three other fights. The main even is expected to start about 11:30 p.m.
Immediately preceding the Lewis-Grant bout will be an IBF featherweight title defense by Paul Ingle (22-1, 15 knockouts) of England against Junior Jones (47-4, 27 knockouts), a former WBA bantamweight champion from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The other television fights are a 10-round welterweight bout between Arturo Gatti (31-4, 26 knockouts) of Jersey City, N.J., and Eric Jakubowksi (20-6, four knockouts) of Whiting, Ind., and a 12-round heavyweight match between Wladimir Klitschko (31-1, 30 knockouts) and David Bostice (21-1-1, 12 knockouts) of Mesa, Ariz.