Jay Deas has defended Lennox Lewis following the eruption of a row between the former heavyweight king and Showtime analysts.
In a recent segment on the network, respected Showtime commentators dismissed Lewis as an undisputed top division champion despite the fact the Briton held all the recognized titles at the time.
During an era when the WBO were just making their way as an organization, Lewis reigned supreme as WBA, WBC, IBO and IBF ruler following victory over Evander Holyfield in 1999.
Even the fight poster at the time was labelled ‘Undisputed’ as Lewis secured his legacy with a solid triumph over one of the best fighters of all time.
Despite this fact, Showtime claimed the last undisputed champion was Mike Tyson BEFORE the formation of the WBO, with even the former ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’s’ conqueror James ‘Buster’ Douglas, Riddick Bowe and Holyfield himself being disregarded.
Lewis fought his own corner by stating: So apparently Showtime Boxing 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 honor TWICE.
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 @ShowtimeBoxing tries to take that away from me or anyone else who deserves that honor!
And for Showtime to try to defend their error instead of admitting your 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.
The WBO belt not a major or coveted belt in my days. I could have lifted it from (whoever) held it had I ever believed that my status as an undisputed champion would ever be called into question. If ppl covet that belt in 2018, so be it… but not in my day!
Current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s trainer Deas has backed the 1988 Olympic gold medallist up on his questioning of the situation.
“Lennox Lewis was a great Champion who defeated every man put in front of him,” Deas pointed out exclusively told World Boxing News.
“In late 1999, he won a decision in his rematch with Holyfield to secure the WBA, IBF, WBC and IBO titles. The WBO had formed a decade or so before but their heavyweight title wasn’t as well known at the time.
“I think their champions included Herbie Hide, Michael Bent, Henry Akinwande, all who weren’t regarded as well. I also think a young Vitali Klitschko was the WBO Champ when Lewis won the decision over Holyfield. Both Klitschko and the WBO would rise to prominence in the years that followed.
“In fact, Lennox beat Vitali later which would solidify his claim to being the best of the time. I haven’t heard of any controversy regarding Lewis and whether he unified so I’m out of the loop there.
“I do know that there were probably 20 organizations at the time naming ‘world’ champs. Does one have to win the QBC, IBL, WBY, UBO etc to say they are unified? Of course not. One has to win the legitimately recognized titles of the time.
“So it all comes down to how well regarded one feels the WBO was in 1999. I remember at the time feeling Lewis had unified and was undisputed.
“Had he won the same belts eight years later I would have felt he had one more belt to win to unify. That’s how far the WBO came in a short time span, but in 1999 it wasn’t that way. Lewis was the man,” he added.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay