Boxing

Former champ Lewis: Heavyweight division is ‘dead’

BERLIN — Former world champion Lennox Lewis has declared the heavyweight division “dead” and criticised current champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko for fighting sub-standard boxers.

Lewis, 46, retired in 2003 as the WBC and IBO champion after defending his titles with a sixth round technical knock-out of Vitali Klitschko, but says the heavyweight division badly needs more exciting fighters to come through.

The aging Ukrainian brothers hold all the major heavyweight belts between them. Wladimir, who turns 36 on Sunday, holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles while Vitali, 40, is the WBC champion.

“Right now, the heavyweight division is dead,” London-born Lewis told German magazine Stern.

“The Klitschko brothers and their opponents are just filling their bags (with cash). Their opponents will not improve, they wouldn’t have even made sparring partners for me.”

Wladimir knocked out former cruiserweight champion Jean-Marc Mormeck on March 3 after the Frenchman was hopelessly outclassed and Lewis said the Klitschko’s title fights are a poor advert for the sport.

“At some point, the referee steps in and stops the fight. They are boring,” said Lewis.

“If you are looking to find the best boxer in the world it must be decided by an epic fight. Not this circus.”

Wladimir Klitschko has already answered criticism of his fights and before the Mormeck bout he refused to apologise for making his so-called “easy” fights look one-sided.

“Maybe it looks simple and one-sided, but it demands a lot of work and concentration and you have to be right on the ball,” said the Ukrainian.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of mood you are in, what kind of physical shape you are in, you need to show your best performance on Saturday night.”

“If our fights were kind of sloppy and we were getting punched in the face, probably that would be exciting for the fans.”

Meanwhile, Lewis said he has no plans to return to the ring, but said he could be persuaded if he was offered an astronomical purse.

“For 100 million (unspecified), I’d come back,” he said.

“For that I would take off my pyjamas and go to the gym.”

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