BRITISH former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis believes Tyson Fury will go down as an all-time boxing great if he KO's Deontay Wilder in their rematch.
The 54-year-old will be ringside at the MGM Grand to see the Gypsy King take on the Bronze Bomber.
Here, he tells SunSport’s WALLY DOWNES JR his predictions . . .
WALLY DOWNES JR: What was your verdict on the original fight in LA?
LENNOX LEWIS: The first fight was great and I am basically expecting the same from the second fight.
When you have two combatants of that quality in the fight, you expect one of them to win — but I wasn’t disappointed it was a draw.
It just gave both guys a chance to go away and learn what they need to improve to get the win and that should make for a fantastic fight.
WD: In 2009, when you were inducted into boxing’s Hall of Fame, you gave a little known Deontay Wilder a jab masterclass in a New York car park.
LL: I remember it — it was basically when I first met him.
I asked him to show me what he had and he showed me his jab. I was just correcting him on a few things.
That is a part of history and I was very happy to do it
I hear people say that the old guys don’t like helping the younger guys coming up, but that is not true. I give away all the information and experience I have earned for free, to whoever is wise enough to ask for it.
WD: Wilder is not the heaviest heavyweight and is technically questionable. So, where does that freakish power in his right hand come from?
LL: It’s a good question because when I look at him I see a guy who is 212lb, with very thin legs — so where does he generate his power from?
I think it is a whipping power. The speed of his punch means, no matter where it hits, it is going to concuss.
I saw with the second fight against Bermane Stiverne that he only hit him on the top of the head, the hardest part, but he was able to take him totally out.
You are right to call it freakish and I think it is because of his freakishly-long frame and limbs, meaning he can throw these long punches that get a lot of speed and weight behind them.
WD: Fury claims the only thing he has done to improve neck strength and punch resistance is “p**** licking”. Shouldn’t he be doing neck bridges and jaw weights like Anthony Joshua?
LL: Yes, they work absolutely. A lot of guys do not realise your neck is a shock absorber.
Your neck should always be as strong as possible because that is what absorbs a lot of punch power.
Your neck and legs must be strong to be able to take a shot.
WD: You won rematches with Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall after shock KO losses. How much does knowing your opponent influence the second fight?
LL: They would both have learned a lot from the first fight but Deontay would have learned a lot more because he now knows that he has a guy in front of him who may be a better boxer than him.
Deontay now knows how Tyson moves and that he is not easy to hit — and that he might have to go back to his drawing board to get better at.
My rematches were different because, when I lost, I knew what I had to do to win the rematch before I had even got out of the ring.
I was not scared of those guys — they were not elite fighters, they were guys who threw great shots that my chin just happened to get in the way of!
If I was Deontay or Tyson, I would just be focused on exactly what I got wrong in the first fight and correcting that to win the rematch.
WD: Wilder proved twice that he can catch Fury, so does he have the upper hand?
LL: Fury made the mistake a big guy should never make and I am sure he will correct that. Deontay knows that Tyson and everyone else in the world is watching out for his right hand, so he needs a different weapon.
When I beat Vitali Klitschko in my last fight, he was so worried about defending my straight right hand that I got him with a shock uppercut.
WD: Fury has vowed to go for a KO - do you believe him?
LL: It is hard to believe without any evidence of him doing it in the past. The only evidence I have of that is the few times in the first fight when he did hurt him in the second and had him stumbling a bit.
Maybe Fury believes now that he can catch this guy early and he just needs to develop his power a little more?
I said after the fight, ‘one guy needs to develop power and the other has to develop his boxing skills’. That is what I saw and that is what they both have to do.
If Tyson really thinks that he can knock Deontay out then it’s possible, these big guys generate a lot of power.
A boxer like Tyson Fury is not looking for the knockout, he is looking to outbox his opponent. Now, if he wants to add punch power to his repertoire, I am not hating that idea, that is what he needs to do.
WD: What do you make of Fury switching his trainer from Ben Davison to SugarHill Steward?
LL: Anytime you go with a new trainer, they give you fresh confidence straight away. When I moved to SugarHill’s uncle Manny Steward in 1994, just after I had lost to Oliver McCall, he gave me confidence straight away.
Manny told me I was really good, he told me use my talent, he told me to use my natural boxing and movement ability. He told me I was only making little mistakes that we could correct, as a new team.
Sugar will probably say, ‘you’re 6ft 9in tall, don’t be bending down’.
Sugar will correct all those little things and make him a complete fighter. And Tyson Fury will look up to a great trainer in his corner, rather than his friend Ben Davison.
It is difficult to train your friend or be trained by a friend instead of a guy you look at as a professor who can teach you new things every day.
WD: If Fury stops Wilder, would it top his win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015?
LL: Absolutely! This is the man with a 95 per cent knockout ratio in heavyweight ratio. If Tyson knocks that man out then he takes that title from him.
Doing that would put Tyson right near the top of the heavyweight pantheon because he would have stopped the man who has stopped everybody else. This is a chance for Tyson Fury to take someone great, of his era, out.
WD: So, give us your prediction?
LL: I think it goes down to the wire. It is almost the exact same fight as the last time.
But both guys should be better at their craft and with nothing to inhibit them. Fury is clear of his weight and depression problems, Deontay’s right hand was hurt for the first fight but it is fine now.
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There are no excuses for this one.
WD: Would the winner be the favourite against Anthony Joshua?
LL: Absolutely. That is without question.