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banner Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 00:11 GMT
Nothing to gain, plenty to lose
Lennox Lewis: widely expected to beat Francois Botha
Sport Online's Sanjeev Shetty previews Saturday night's fight at the London Arena between Lennox Lewis and Francois Botha.

World heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is widely expected to beat Francois Botha. Outside of the Botha camp, few people expect the South African to see the final bell and most feel that the former IBF champion will be defeated somewhere between the fourth and seventh round.

But it is usually the way that when Lewis is expected to easily win, he doesn't. Against Frank Bruno, Ray Mercer and Zeljko Mavrovic, the Englishman was heavily fancied to perform impressively, but failed.

And his only defeat, at the hands of Oliver McCall in London six years ago, was another case of the 1988 Olympic gold medallist seemingly having underestimated his opponent.

There is also how Lewis fares against men smaller than him - Mercer, Evander Holyfield and McCall all gave Lewis problems despite being three to four inches shorter. Even the Lewis camp admit that when their man has to punch down, he has a problem.


Botha may have been encouraged by the weigh-in, where Lewis scaled 250lbs, three pounds heavier than for his two round knockout of Michael Grant in April.

The challenger came in at a solid 236lbs, which looked better for the work of a nutrionist. He also has a very competent trainer in Abel Sanchez, who actually holds a 7-2 record over the man in the other corner, Emmanuel Steward.

Having said all that, there seems little chance that Botha can do much more than irritate Lewis. His two career defeats came at the hands of two men called Michael - Moorer and Tyson. The former befuddled Botha with his southpaw style, while the latter took him out with one right hand punch.

Those fights showed that Botha was brave, determined but not a big puncher. The only type of fighter that can really trouble Lewis is someone who can hit with sufficient force to make Lewis wary of coming forward.

The South African's fast hands will cause Lewis problems during the early going, but it seems likely that by the sixth or seventh round the size and natural power of the champion will have left the challenger looking like he needs a rest.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 |  Lewis in London
Shavers: Lewis will beat Tyson
14 Jul 00 |  Lewis in London
Lewis told to beware Botha power
13 Jul 00 |  Lewis in London
Lewis wins weigh-in
11 Jul 00 |  Lewis in London
No chance for Botha
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