The Londoner, who ruled the division from 1999 to 2003 as the lineal title holder, believes a recent statement by network Showtime that ‘there hasn’t been an undisputed king since Mike Tyson in 1999’ is a considerable slur on his record.
In 1999, Lewis fought Evander Holyfield for four recognised versions of the crown, with the IBO more revered than the lesser-known WBO in those days. This meant the winner of Lewis v Holyfield was at that time known as the number one and undisputed, something which has only now been altered with the further emergence of the World Boxing Organisation.
Until 2008 when Wladimir Klitschko held the maroon belt amongst his four straps, the WBO had struggled to get big heavyweight names to contest their top award, meaning only over the last decade has the undisputed crown became more blurred.
As Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker prepare to duke it out for four belts on March 31, which will be televised by Showtime, Lewis feels his accomplishments are being undermined.
“So apparently Showtime thinks they can re-write history by writing champions like myself, Bowe, Douglas and Holyfield out of it and by saying there hasn’t been an undisputed champion since Mike Tyson in 1999. I personally recall facing Holyfield for that honour TWICE,” said Lewis.
“As a fighter, being the undisputed champion was my ONLY goal. Fight the best to be the best. That was the legacy I fought my whole career for. So don’t think I’ll take it lightly when Showtime tries to take that away from me or anyone else who deserves that honour!
“And for Showtime to try to defend their error instead of admitting their mistake, only goes to show the lack of knowledge and willingness to do their homework. It’s almost as if there is some other agenda going on here
So apparently @ShowtimeBoxing thinks they can rewrite history, by writing champions like myself, Bowe, Douglas and Holyfield out of it, by saying there hasn’t been an undisputed champion since @MikeTyson in 1999. I personally recall facing @holyfield for that honour TWICE. pic.twitter.com/zYbvwPlqeQ
— Lennox Lewis (@LennoxLewis) March 20, 2018
“The WBO belt was not a major or coveted belt in my days. I could have lifted it from John Ruiz had I ever believed that my status as an undisputed champion would ever be called into question. If people covet that belt in 2018, so be it but not in my day!
“The ‘politricks’ of my era and the amount of Mickey Mouse belts made it difficult to impossible to own every single fringe belt there was at the time, so I only focused on fighting the best of the best and collecting the major belts of the time,” he added.
There’s no doubting Lewis was undisputed – and the last of those undisputed champions, as Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua since then have failed to secure to most recognised title of them all – the WBC championship.
Had any multi-belt ruler prior to 2008 managed to hold the WBA, WBC, IBO and IBF titles at one time, they too would be considered undisputed – something which has only altered in the last ten years.
To hold that coveted title now, a fighter is expected to claim those four and the WBO, a task which seems to become harder over time with the further addtion of organisations.
Lewis has a solid and valid gripe here, so for anyone to say he was never undisputed would be wrong…and any similar claims should be disregarded as such.