Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has revealed Evander Holyfield was the toughest opponent he faced throughout his exceptional career.
‘The Pugilist Specialist’, who ruled the late 1990s era in the top division, fought two bouts with Holyfield during the height of his pomp.
Drawing the first in highly controversial circumstances, Lewis won the second. The Briton firmly believes he claimed victory in both.
Despite two ‘victories’ over Holyfield, Lewis has nothing but respect for the two-weight king after explaining his reasoning to fans.
“People seem to be genuinely surprised when I tell them Evander Holyfield was my toughest opponent. But when you really dive into why that is, it actually makes a lot of sense,” said Lewis.
“Holyfield, like me, has an extensive amateur pedigree that has served him well throughout his professional career.
“He started boxing at eight years old and was an Olympic Bronze medalist in 1984. Before he moved up to the heavyweight division, he’s a man that cleared out the cruiserweight division to become the undisputed champion. He was arguably one of the best ever, in that weight class.
“That’s a lot of experience. 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 would be hard-pressed not to see the kind of success he’s had in the ring.
“I may tease him a bit on our two fights. But he knows I won both fights even tho he won’t admit it. In all seriousness, he’s the only man that has gone 24 rounds with me.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of amateur experience. Consider the amateurs as your internship into the pros. The more you learn about your craft, the better it will serve you.
“Me and Evander’s extensive amateur experience brought us to the top of our games. In a sport where there are no guarantees, and even one mistake can end in disaster, it’s important to play the odds.
“So although we have both had setbacks in our careers, there was very little chance that the success we sought in the sport of boxing would not be reached.”
Some questioned Holyfield as the choice when Lewis was stopped by Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall. Plus was given a hard time by Vitali Klitschko.
There was also a match-up with a certain Mike Tyson, although the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ was way past his prime by then.
Lewis doesn’t get any credit for the stoppage, to this day.