Has boxing gone down for the ten count?

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com

HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa (Sports Network) -- Maybe not the whole of the sport but it does appear as though the heavyweight division is staggering against the ropes and it will not take much more to send it to the canvas. It's one thing for Lennox Lewis' trainer, Emanuel Steward, to proclaim that "There is no heavyweight in the world that can beat him" but it is quite another to take a quick glance around the planet and notice that there aren't many who could beat anyone.

Michael Grant was simply not ready. Out of his league. He was a better than average amateur asked to act like a professional for one night. He could not do it. Three first round knockdowns and a second-round knockout over the big kid from Norristown, PA proved that conclusively. Only Evander Holyfield lurks in the shadows. Mike Tyson is an historical asterisk and footnote. The entire fiasco of Lewis taking the championship belt to England does nothing more than display a tainted ascendancy to the throne. He won the first fight against Holyfield, lost the second and was the recipient of a make-up call by the arbiters at ringside at that time. Boxing continued to sink to new lows.

What about David Tua from Samoa? Small, very small, and a big heart won't cut it.

The Klitschko brothers from Russia might do it but only if the both climbed into the ring and where would you rather see the championship, England or Russia? So much for that.

Francois Botha from South Africa would be knocked out coming from the dressing room. Then, of course, there are such household names as Larry Donald, John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman. All from the good old U.S. of A..

Evander is the only hope right now of returning the heavyweight championship to America. He might be 38 in October but this corner says he still has one fight left in him, one that will bring out his best together with a new entry into the record books. Lewis is 34, not that much younger than Holyfield and the former champ is experienced enough to wend his way in, out and around that 6-foot-5, 247-pound frame.

Lewis was deserving of respect when he avoided the good fighters out there all those years but his annual disappearing act played badly on the media and boxing fans worldwide save those in the UK. It is a new role he will be playing now as his team has already settled on Botha July 15th with Tua being penciled in for November. Heck, he could fight them both on the same night and no one would notice.

That "other title" is up for grabs, the WBA one for which Ruiz and Holyfield will do battle in June. You may recall that it was taken away from Lewis by the courts last month. Holyfield must dispatch Ruiz swiftly and with a message to Lewis, "Get rid of the flunkies and let's do it one more time to decide where the belt belongs for now."

A reporter from the London Daily Express, James Laughton, lauded the win over Grant as though he had just witnessed Louis knocking Schmelling through the ropes. What the somewhat expressive journalist with minimal knowledge of boxing did not realize was that the Golden Gloves finals were better than what was on display when Grant stepped out of his league. His colleagues have joined in and taken us to task by proclaiming that we are "whiners," "jealous" and "stubborn." "The Americans think they own the title," wrote one while yet another penned, "America can't take it." Oh, we can take it alright and it is our plan to take it back. But, we need a warrior. Looking around, his name is Holyfield.

When you check the record books you will find that it has been more than 100 years since Great Britain had a universally recognized heavyweight champion. Whenever the title left the States, as rare an occasion as that was, it was always returned quickly. It was on loan. Nothing more. No Larry Holmes in the wings, George Foreman or the semblance of another Brown Bomber.

The best of the lot now might be the 5-fot-ten bowling ball, David Tua. He has the youth (27) and he certainly possesses the desire. John Ruiz, the upcoming Holyfield opponent, was knocked out by Tua in 19 seconds, including the referee's 10 count. To best that, Holyfield must be told he has won before he comes down the runway to the ring. But, Tua will get his chance soon and, if there is a change of heart by Lewis,Tua can afford to wait. Evander cannot. And Lewis is going to clutch the title for as long as he can by fighting Kiddie Day Care applicants.

Look for Lewis to discuss retirement before he thinks about taking on Holyfield. He will also delay as long as possible to give the former champ all the time necessary, too much of it, after he beats Ruiz. It will add up to a new Guiness record for being put on hold.

Sour grapes from our side of the pond? Not really. The question is whether Lewis has really proven himself and how much substance there is in shouting, "Bring them all on, the best of the lot as soon as possible." The best of the lot is in Atlanta right now and that is the man Lewis should take on one more time. After that, the heavyweight division can just fade away for the foreseeable future. But, will he do it, will he make the call to the man that wants a deciding match to settle it all? You gotta be kidding!

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