A gentle chess-playing Brit against the street thug from Brooklyn. Mr. Likable against Mr. Despicable.
For Lewis, Tyson represents an opportunity to secure his spot in the sport's lore. The 36-year-old Lewis (39-2-1, 30 KOs) has fought the best the division has had to offer throughout his career -- with Tyson the lone exception.
A victory Saturday likely would provide Lewis with the recognition that has escaped him most of his tenure.
"I am very focussed and very positive," Lewis said. "I cannot wait. I am looking forward to this. That is all I have to say. All the talking is done. It is time for some action."
Lewis has beaten nearly all the top heavyweights, including Tony Tucker (W12), Frank Bruno (TKO 7), Ray Mercer (W10), Andrew Golota (KO 1) and Shannon Briggs (TKO 5). Lewis fought to a questionable draw with Evander Holyfield, but won the rematch in November 1999.
Lewis' Achilles heal is his chin, which betrayed him in title loses to Oliver McCall in 1994, and two fights ago when he was stunned by unheralded Hasim Rahman in South Africa.
Again Lewis showed his mettle by knocking out Rahman in four rounds in November.
Lewis' chin is sure to be the chief target for Tyson (49-3, 43 KOs, 2 no-contests). Boxing's most controversial figure has helped sell the fight with his prefight antics, which included he and Lewis nearly coming to blows during a news press conference in January.
"I don't feel Tyson deserves to be fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world, but Lewis himself chose to take this fight," said Lewis trainer Emanuel Steward. "He is very determined not to just beat him, but to knock him out. I cannot see anyway that Tyson is going to do anything against this fight machine."
On the undercard, Manny Pacquiao (33-2-1, 24 KOs) of the Philippines defends his IBF junior featherweight title against Jorge Eliecer Julio (44-3, 32 KOs) of Colombia. Former junior lightweight champion Joel Casamayor meets Juan Arias in a 10-round bout.
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