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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 17:18 GMT
Boxing: Lewis still king
By Ben Dirs

Lennox Lewis defended his WBC title once in 2003
Lennox Lewis finished the year much as he began it - still WBC heavyweight champion of the world and still contemplating retirement.

A messy victory over Vitali Klitschko in June showed he is a fighter on the slide and he may wish he had called it quits after destroying Mike Tyson in 2002.

Rumours persist Lewis will give Klitschko a rematch some time next year, but with no challenges left and bundles in the bank, he might be best to bow out with his dignity and legacy in tact.

If Britain's greatest modern-day fighter does decide to call it a day, it will leave the heavyweight division a desolate place - such is the mediocrity on display.

Roy Jones Jr is an exceptional fighter, but in making a smash and grab raid for John Ruiz' WBA crown in March, he became the first former middleweight champion since 1897 to capture a heavyweight title.

And there were signs the American's pound-for-pound crown was beginning to slip during his contentious win over Antonio Tarver to regain the WBC light-heavyweight belt.

Expect to see Jones v Tyson in 2004 as they scrap for one last astronomical pay-day.

THE BIG FIGHTS

This was a year during which a handful of legends lost their lustre.

Rejuvenated former middleweight king James Toney dismantled a shop-worn Evander Holyfield in October, a sad day made sadder by Holyfield's pledge to fight on.

And in November, featherweight great Marco Antonio Barrera was stunned by Filipino Manny Pacquiao, an all-action, hammer-fisted southpaw who looks capable of dominating the division.

With Jones and Barrera on the wane, the honorific title of world's best pound-for-pound fighter has passed.

Former featherweight king Eric Morales and WBC lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather defended world crowns twice in 2003 and look possible successors.

And Kostya Tszyu and Bernard Hopkins remain revered across the globe.

On the domestic front, WBU light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton is on target for a tilt at Tszyu after disposing of tough Ghanaian Ben Tackie in December.

But for super-middleweight Joe Calzaghe it was another frustrating year, despite an impressive win over Byron Mitchell in June.

BRITISH INTEREST

Middleweight great Hopkins and Sven Ottke continue to sidestep the Welshman and he is still seeking a career-defining fight.

Audley Harrison continued to attract criticism in 2003, but is now undefeated in 13 professional bouts.

And with Herbie Hide triggering a ringside brawl at one of Harrison's fights and Danny Williams hanging on as British champion, things are looking up at heavyweight.

If only the protagonists would pluck up the courage to fight each other.

Aside from Lewis and Calzaghe, cruiserweight Johnny Nelson and featherweight Scott Harrison finished the year as British world champions.

Harrison became the first Scotsman to reclaim a world title when he disposed of Manuel Medina in November, the Mexican having stolen his WBO crown in July.

Meanwhile, Manchester featherweight Michael Brodie is due a rematch with South Korea's Injin Chi early in 2004 following their controversial WBC title draw.

And light-heavyweight Clinton Woods may get another stab at the IBF crown after squaring a bruising encounter with Glencoffe Johnson in November.

Domestic fight of the year goes to Alex Arthur v Michael Gomez, Gomez winning in the fifth round of a barnstorming contest to claim the British super-featherweight belt.

But there was no sign of Naseem Hamed in 2003, with rumours rife he will never return, while Frank Bruno's health problems were cause for sober contemplation.


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