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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 01:46 GMT 02:46 UK
Champion of the masses
Lennox Lewis has gone on the charm offensive
Lewis took on a 13-year-old child at chess

After the profanity-laced offerings from the Mike Tyson camp in the build-up to the fight, winning the publicity war was never going to be difficult for Lennox Lewis.

But at his own news conference the world heavyweight champion produced the kind of virtuoso performance that is usually associated with his work in the ring.

Embracing his role with the kind of dignity that one would expect, Lewis answered every question with quiet confidence and sometimes, with a little humour.

"I only had one reservation with fighting in Memphis and that was the humidity," the 36-year-old said on Wednesday.

"But we're fighting indoors, so everything is sweet."

Glenn McCrory with Mike Tyson
McCrory favours his former sparring partner
It may not have been enough to make Billy Crystal consider giving him his day job, but Lewis made his point clearly enough. The world champion is in a very relaxed mood.

He is a chess fan and the London-born fighter entertained a 13-year-old from a local school with a few minutes on the chequered squares.

When it came time to show the gathering his skills in the ring, Lewis happily and impressively obliged with some very sharp work on the pads held by his trainer Emanuel Steward.

Practice is no substitute for nerve and Lewis will certainly need all his experience when the bell sounds, but there is little indication so far that he is going to freeze when the action starts at around 0415BST on Sunday.

Despite the contrast between the two camps, some figures within boxing are still backing Tyson.

One is former world champion Glenn McCrory, who sparred 100 rounds with Tyson during the 1980s and also lost to Lewis in two rounds in 1991.

"If Rahman could knock out Lewis then Tyson can," McCrory told BBC Sport Online.

McCrory reckons that if Lewis fights the cautious way that he expects, that would play straight into Tyson's hands.

His other concern is that if Lewis throws the lazy jab which he is prone to doing, a Tyson right hand counter could end matters there and then.


Tyson is a timebomb. He will get disqualified if doesn't get knocked out first
Joe Goossen
Trainer
Much more convinced of Lewis' chances is veteran American trainer Joe Goossen, who took middleweight Michael Nunn to the world championship during the 1980s.

"I like Lennox Lewis in this fight," said the trainer, who will be in the corner of Cuban super-featherweight Joel Casamayor on Saturday.

"Lennox has the advantages in quality of opposition, activity and size.

"Tyson had trouble with big guys like Tony Tucker, Tyrell Biggs, Pinklon Thomas and even to a degree Frank Bruno and that was nearly 15 years ago.

"Tyson is a timebomb. He will get disqualified if doesn't get knocked out first."

Unsurprisingly, Goossen speaks in glowing terms of the benefits Lewis has in his corner.

"Emanuel Steward is an intelligent man who has great verbal skills.

"He brings truck loads of experience to the team.

"Lennox Lewis has a lot of stability with Manny Steward in his corner."

A look at the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight

Lewis stuns Tyson

Our man in Memphis

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Links to more Lewis v Tyson fight stories are at the foot of the page.


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