The Ringmeister and the Polooka

 001254732

 

Lennox The Great!

 

A Bad Show or Sweet Science?

 Reading the sporting wags’ commentary on the Lennox Lewis/David Tua fight, I find myself marveling at the fact that they actually get paid for writing such drivel. Virtually all of this copy is uninformed prattle that fails to enlighten or entertain.  Rick Telander, a senior correspondent with Sports Writers Direct, whom I read on CNN.com, published a piece that contains all the vices of his virtually all white sports writing fraternity.  Telander’s commentary, an amalgam of bored irreverence and blood lust, offers not the slightest hint that this wag is a real boxing fan, or even really understands the game.   

It is not enough that a fighter gives a brilliant technical performance, Telander wants carnage: “Lewis seems to have no interest in doing anything more than winning.  And it’s amazing how dull that can be.”  He then pines for Mike Tyson, who has not had an interesting bout since the first Evander Holifield fight, and he got his butt whipped good in that one.  But, hungry for the spectacle of two brutes battering and bloodying each other in a kind of modern Circus Maximus, Telander muses, “Is Lewis the one guy who could make folks cheer for that nut case.”  Surely Mr. Telander must know that whatever fear and loathing boxing fans may feel toward Mike Tyson, it never stopped them from paying to see him fight, or applauding wildly when he bombed out some sacrificial lamb.

 Doug Fischer’s column on ESPN.com, is equally simple minded.  Like Telander, he seems to be a closet WWF fan.  Clearly he is bored by a well-strategized, technically brilliant approach to boxing, because that’s just what Lewis offered last Saturday night.  I had a ball watching the bout, but for Fischer the match “was the fighting equivalent of cough syrup.”  The thoughtful reader must wonder how he came to know this because he tells us  “I lost interest after the fifth round.”  The question is why this guy believes anyone cares what he thinks about a fight he wasn’t paying attention too.  But I guess these know it all white boys can publish opinions about things they have not observed because…well, they’re know it all white boys!   But we discover what’s really buggin Dougie when he cuts loose with this bit of all American boosterism:”this is what happens when Americans don’t hold the biggest title in sports.”  It is an attitude that gushed from the mouths of the talking heads on the all sports radio stations like WFAN and One on One during the Olympic games. 

Landing the Jab at Will!

 Mik Tyson, Gorilla 4 real!

 

 Tyson at work

 The fact that Lennox Lewis is tall dark and handsome, highly articulate, slightly irreverent toward the pretensions of sports writers, apparently invincible in the ring, and a foreigner to boot seems to drive some American fights fans crazy.  The toll of nutcases seem particularly high among professional sports writers, most of whom are white males who’s mental stability appears to depend upon their belief that Americans can do everything and any thing better than the rest of the world; any time anyplace anywhere.   But, cry as they might, they’re gonna have to live with Lennox The Great for the foreseeable future. And as for all you Tyson fanatics out there – including TBWT’s sports editor Marion Boykin – I’m telling you now: Lennox Lewis will crush Tyson as easily as he did Tua.  In fact, I’m going on record here and now with this prediction: If Tyson is cautious the fight will follow the script of the Tua fight.  If he tries to brawl he will get knocked out!  This will be the inevitable outcome in spite of the fact that Tyson brings considerably more weapons to the fight than did Tua.

 For those fans that came expecting to see a bloody knock down drag out brawl, the fight was a big bore.  But for connoisseurs of the sweet science, the present writer included, the fight was a classic case of a polished boxer/puncher systematically dismantling a big mouth bully boy who thinks that he can intimidate every opponent by sellin wolf tickets before the bout, then jumpin right on his cowed adversary and overwhelming them in the ring.  In his style and temperment Tua reminds me of Tony “Little Torito” Ayala, who was bombing out all the up and coming middle weight contenders before he went to prison for rape: But in Lennox Lewis Tua met his match.

 

The Throwin Samoan!

 

David Tua

David Tua was Simply Outclassed!

 

While Tua fans blathered on ad-nauseum about how big and powerful their man was, and how Lewis would never be able to withstand the power punches of the “Throwin Samoan,” I looked at the tubby little Tua beside the 6’5” splendidly conditioned Lewis and gave Tua less than a snowflake’s chances in a micro-wave oven!  It was just a matter of how the champ was gonna take this chubby little chump out.  Would he just explode and blow him away like he did the big Polish guy, or would he systematically break out all over him like poison ivy, leaving ugly bumps and welts over his head.  When he chose the latter course I was delighted because I love to see a master tactician at work on a dangerous opponent, leaving him confused and impotent.

 At first glance the tutored eye could see the real possibility of a mismatch.  Although only a few pounds separated them, Lewis is a much bigger man.  Hence the champ looked like a well conditioned through bred and Tua looked like a plow horse about to challenge him at the Kentucky Derby, and with the same predictable results. On my scorecard he didn’t win a round!  The rounds called for Tua looked even at best. Lets face it people, Lennox Lewis is the beat heavyweight in the world and one of the most skilled champions in any weight class. Mike Tyson is the only fighter in the world today who has any chance of beating Lewis, and he has only two chances: slim and none.  I envision a Tyson Lewis fight going a lot like the Michael Spinks / Dwight Braxton fight, where a technically accomplished former Olympic Champion met a street thug with murder on his mind and a buzz saw style. Like Lewis, Spinks was also a long lanky boxer/puncher with a great left jab and a pulverizing right.  Plus he had a great trainer, the “Professor,” Eddie Futch. 

 In the pairing of Lennox Lewis and Emmanuel Stewart we have a union ordained by the gods of war.  They remind me of the great Russian ballet masters: choreographer George Ballanchine, and his Prima Danseur Rudolph Nuryev, in the way they collaborate with each other to bring off masterful performances.  In my view Manny Stewart is the best trainer in the business, and he says that Lennox is the most talented heavyweight he’s ever seen!  While one must allow that some of this could be hyperbole on Stewart’s part – sort of like telling the girl one is with at the moment that she is the love of one’s life – right now this team looks invincible. And from what we know of Stewart’s career Lennox Lewis is his kind of fighter. 

 If we look at the world champions that Stewart trained from jumpstreet – lightweight Hilmer Kenty, welter/middle weight Thomas Hearns, and Heavyweight Tony “TNT” Tucker – they all fit the same profile: tall, lanky, boxer/punchers.  Hence Lennox Lewis is a quintessential Stewart fighter.  And since he has been training with Stewart he looks more unbeatable each time out.  Fortunately for the serious student of the sweet science, we were provided an opportunity to listen to Stewart’s instructions in the corner between rounds.  Anybody contemplating a career in the prizefight ring would greatly increase their chances of success – providing they have the talent of course – whether they intend to dance on the canvas at center ring or drop some sweet science in the corner. 

Tommy Hearns: The Motown Cobra!

Thomas Hearns

A Great Boxer Puncher and Five Times World Champion

As we listened to the two corner men it was obvious that Tua’s corner had no solution for the Lennox Lewis puzzle.  As both of them began to recognize this fact the discourse between warrior and mentor eventually degenerated into self-deprecating babble that blamed the victim for the ass whipping he was taking. Tua’s trainer ruthlessly excoriated him for bitching up and refusing to move on Lewis like he wanted to take the title from the champion.  But while Tua was ready and willing, he just wasn’t able.  On the other hand the whole affair was like a walk in the park for Lewis, who fought with the ease, grace and confidence of an undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.   Lewis has everything it takes to be a great fighter.  He is a surperb boxer and a paralyzing puncher, his great height and reach allows him to drop bombs on his opponents from the sky, and he’s harder to hit than the Lotto Jackpot.

 All the while we could hear Manny Stewart complimenting Lewis’ great gifts by droppin sweet science in his ear, orchestrating the whole thing like grand Ringmiester that he is.   Mark my words: Lennox The Great will rule the world of professional pugilism for as long as he so desires, and I can only think of one opponent who will even mount an interesting challenge, Mike the Monster Tyson.  But, as tough and talented as “Iron Mike” is, it is hard to imagine that he will end up as anything other than the Champ’s next bum of the month.

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  Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

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