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As I See It

5 June 2002

I sent my cash, because any time I can get entertained for anything under a "Cecil" for an entire evening without having an inkling how this story pans out, it has bargain written all over it.

I will not debate whether the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight should or should not take place. I will leave that up to the so-called experts, whose opinion is for the most part just that: an opinion. Trust me that yours and mine have as much and in some cases more credibility than the people who get all the major bylines.

Let us just discuss the fight.

With all the outside activity that has surrounded this event and the multitude of story lines, here is one I think was overlooked: common opponents, and there are quite a few.

For openers, I believe that the heavyweight division in the past decade has been mediocre at best. It is surely true that Tyson has not fought a quality fighter since Holyfield. And Evander - whether you believe it or not - is about 50% of what he was a short five years ago. But he will not go away because each time he is written off he salvages his career by beating someone like Hasim Rahman and sets himself up again for a title shot because there is such diluted competition in the division.

Here are Lennox's last five fights: Rahman twice, David Tua, Frans Botha, and a vastly overrated Michael Grant.

Digest this. Both Tyson and Lewis beat Andrew Golota with no problem. Both knocked out the English cupcake Frank Bruno with no trouble. Both beat Botha, but Tyson did have more trouble than Lewis.

Remember how much hype Tyrell Biggs got when he came on the scene? Lewis, KO in three and Tyson, KO in seven. Don King told me personally that his new "gem" Tony Tucker would dispatch, humiliate and vilify any human being who came within three states of this machine. Tyson and Lewis both won.

The two fights that Mike had with Ruddock were both good. If I remember correctly, the first one ended when referee Richard Steele jumped in and by most accounts stopped the fight prematurely, and Mike beat him in a unanimous decision in the rematch. Lewis knocked Ruddock clear to Omaha on Halloween night in 1992. Remember, that was one of those title elimination bouts that took place when Riddick Bowe listened to his rocket scientist manager Rock Newman and threw the one belt into the garbage pail.

And we have seen oh so many times at the Holyfield-Tyson fights where Mike was outsmarted and outboxed on both occasions. But also remember that Lewis and Holyfield met twice in '99, and the one in March in the Garden was declared a draw but most observers felt Evander won the fight. The rematch in Las Vegas was won by Lewis, but again was not a stellar performance.

So what I am trying to say is, basically for the past 15 years these three have been the only heavyweights who have distanced themselves from the pack, but all three have been on a slippery slope. But since they are the best that the division can offer you might as well get used to it because the only fights in this division will have to take two out the three I just mentioned.

That still being said, Holyfield has lost a lot of his gate attraction and frankly a lot of people wish he would just go away. Lewis lacks charisma and is rather bland so consequently does not bring much steam as an entry in a huge gate attraction. Also remember he lost to two club fighters, Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, and that alone will keep his name off the list as a great heavyweight champ.

So we get to Mike, who really has not beaten anyone since '92 if you want to consider Razor Ruddock a decent fighter, and I do. After that, excluding Holyfield, it has been a steady diet of has-beens. But in his own bizarre way, Mike has kept the division afloat because - just as many people have a morbid fascination in car wrecks - so do I believe we are all a little fascinated by Mike.

I give Mike more than just a chance because Lewis for the most part is just another decent fighter in a mediocre division in which he happens to be champ.

The fight will probably go off without too much trouble and if Mike wins, all the places that did not welcome him will once again roll out the red carpet. You will see hypocrisy rise to another level.

$54.95 money well spent. Enjoy the fight.

Stay well,

Jimmy V.

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