Mailbag: Where do you rank Lewis?

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

The inbox was buzzing again with comments on the result of the Michael Bisping-Matt Hamill fight at UFC 75 on Sept. 8, but I was surprised by the volume of comment I received in response to an answer I gave to a question about Lennox Lewis in this space last week.

I'll tackle those questions and more regarding mixed martial arts and boxing in the latest edition of the mailbag.

My answers appear in italics.


How can you not think Lennox Lewis faced top-level competition? Riddick Bowe was afraid of him, but he beat Ray Mercer, Evander Holyfield, Andrew Golota, Mike Tyson, Razor Ruddock and Tommy Morrison. He beat all comers with no exceptions. He has faced better competition than Tyson or Holyfield.


I'm surprised you left Vitali Klitschko out of the list of Lewis' opponents. Lewis faced all the top fighters of his day, but the quality of opponent he faced compared to the quality of fighters that, say, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, fought is vastly inferior.

Ali, for instance, has wins over Hall of Famers Archie Moore, Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Bob Foster, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton.

Lewis has only two wins and a draw against future Hall of Famers, those being the wins over Holyfield and Tyson.

The secondary fighters Ali faced – Jerry Quarry, Earnie Shavers, Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis and Zora Folley – were far superior to the secondary fighters that Lewis faced.

I'll repeat: I think Lewis deserves to be ranked among the top 20 heavyweights ever. But I don't agree, Arthur, that he faced top-level competition in relation to other fighters. He faced the best of his time, but unfortunately for him, he fought in a poor era for quality heavyweights.


I read the comment that guy left about Lennox Lewis. I don't think he followed Lewis' career. First, Lewis wouldn't be in the top 20 if it wasn't for him being trained by Emanuel Stewart late in his career. Also who did he fight of note other than a washed-up Holyfield and Tyson?

Placing Lewis ahead of Foreman is ridiculous. I'm just using Foreman as an example because he fought Ali and Holyfield while they were both very legitimate fighters. Even though he lost both fights, he still fought Ali, the best ever, and Holyfield. Who did Lewis fight?

John Powell
Camden, N.J.

I have great respect for Lennox. But to think he would have been able to defeat a prime Foreman is a stretch, I believe. Lewis didn't have the kind of chin that could withstand Foreman's power for more than six rounds.


Assuming Anderson Silva gets past Rich Franklin again and retains his UFC middleweight title at UFC 77 on Oct. 20, who else is there for him to fight? Does Yushin Okami get a shot if he beats Jason MacDonald? Terry Martin and Martin Kampman are possible contenders, but who else? They need to sign Dennis Kang and Matt Lindland, but it seems like those are long shots.


We're getting a little ahead of ourselves given that Franklin is a dangerous striker, but on the big assumption that Silva wins, I agree that the cupboard is bare of top contenders. Kang recently signed with K-1 Hero's, so he's out of the mix. I doubt Okami will get a chance, either. Terry Martin would at least make an entertaining fight, but there is no great option at the moment. What I'd love to see is a Silva fight against WEC champion Paulo Filho.


What's going on with all the boxing cancellations? About a month ago you wrote an article about boxing coming back strong. That article included a list of upcoming great fights. So far three of those fights have been canceled in September. I am sticking to MMA.

Ryan Slaughter
Palm Springs, Calif.

Injuries happen in contact sports like boxing and MMA and some boxing promoters have run into bad luck. But the Fernando Vargas-Ricardo Mayorga bout that was postponed has been rescheduled, for the 13 who care, for Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. Juan Manuel Marquez, whose injured hand forced the postponement of his Sept. 15 bout with Rocky Juarez, will defend his WBC super featherweight belt against Juarez on Showtime on Nov. 3.


Before his fight against Cheick Kongo at UFC 75, many sports columns mentioned that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic needed to win the fight or his career would be over. I'm not sure if they repeatedly stated this, but this was the general hype I was getting surrounding this fight. And then he lost. How heavily do you think the pre-fight press will affect the rest of his career. Do you think it'll cut it shorter than he anticipated? Do you think any amount of promotional effort will revive his impressive track record?


Nothing the media had to say had any impact on how uninspired and cautiously Cro Cop fought against Gabriel Gonzaga. His days as a top-of-the-food-chain star are almost certainly over. He was constantly looking for the referee against Kongo and didn't fight with the abandon that marked his earlier career. I don't say that because he's lost two straight. It's how he lost those fights: Listless, uninspired and unmotivated. Not sure the UFC is going to want to use him any more, given how much he costs them and the fact that all he deserves is mid-card, or lower, based on his performance.


Do you agree with me that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is insane for going on Dancing with the Stars two weeks before his fight against Ricky Hatton? As a Mayweather fan (one of the few), it's this type of thing that has me worried that he is going to lose.

Phil Briggs

I think it's a fantastic move, giving Mayweather unprecedented exposure a few weeks before a pay-per-view fight. And I think Mayweather is sufficiently better than Hatton that it won't matter. Mayweather would be out dancing in Las Vegas every night if he weren't on the TV show anyway.


Let me address the Bisping-Hamill issue in Dana White fashion. You know, like all astute company executives do. There was no (expletive) "questionable judge's decision". There was absa-expletive-lutely nothing "questionable" about it! And now I'm (expletive) hearing Dana's explanations as to why that (expletive) decision wasn't fixed. I just went to check my (expletive) birth certificate and, nope, I wasn't born last (expletive) night! Please don't insult my (expletive) intelligence! My IQ was tested at one hundred and sixty- expletive-two. My untested sports IQ is probably a (expletive) thousand for that (expletive) matter. This is a (expletive) slap in the face to Zuffa's loyal, (expletive) fan base and to try to cover it with (expletive) lies is sickening! Congrats, Dana! In a shady effort to build a fan base in the U.K., you've lost a major (expletive) portion of a developing, (expletive) fan base in the U.S. I'm thinking there will be quite a (expletive) few more people than the ones whom I've spoken to who were just getting into the sport and are now saying "(Expletive) it! That was total (expletive expletive)! I'm done with the UFC!" Lesson one to Dana: You don't (expletive) call the (expletive) shots; the (expletive) fans do.

Marty Alderson
Scottsdale, Ariz.

I'm taking it you're dropping Dana from your Christmas card list, eh Marty?


How long will it take Paul Williams to get a big money fight? He seems to be lost in the mix among all the big-name welterweights and light middleweights. From what I have seen, he has the tools to beat anybody near his weight. Given his height, reach, hand speed, accuracy, punch volume and the fact that he is a southpaw, I'd be willing to put money on Paul if he got a shot at Mayweather. Heck, he even showed he has a good gas tank and can take some punishment in his last fight against Margarito. I have a feeling Paul is going to be ducked, dodged and overlooked for the next two or three years. Please tell me I'm wrong.

Adam Coble
Rockingham, N.C.

Williams is in a tough spot, Adam. I don't think he gets anywhere near a big fight until mid-2008 at the earliest. He's going to have to win two lower-level defenses at least before we see him in with one of the many big names at or near his weight.

AXE WINKY You should take Winky Wright off the Yahoo! Sports boxing top 10 list. After his fight with Bernard Hopkins, he should retire. I like Daniel Ponce De Leon, Mikkel Kessler and Juan Diaz. Those fighters destroy the fighters they fight. I never see any of these guys in the polls. What do you think of them? Kevin Tullos Dallas I voted for Kessler in my personal poll, though I was outvoted. I think Kessler is terrific. I nearly put Juan Diaz in and, should he defeat Julio Diaz on Oct. 13, that may be enough to put him into the poll. I think Ponce De Leon is an awesome puncher, but he has far too many holes defensively and is too one-dimensional offensively to merit that kind of consideration. He's fun to watch, though. When you watch Ponce De Leon fight, there's always the chance you'll see the opponent's head spin around like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."


Why is it that when you buy a pay-per-view fight, particularly in the UFC, that you don't get to see all the fights? It just doesn't make any sense. I'm a true MMA fan. I don't particularly care who is fighting. If it's a UFC fight, I'm watching it. It should be televised. I went to UFC 74 and watched every fight and loved them all. I would've been pissed to have missed any of them. They record all the fights and put them on the DVD. Why not televise them? Is it too much for Mike and Joe to commentate? If you have a reason, I'd love to hear it. I would've loved to ask Dana White about it. Mike White
Fort Worth, Texas

Mike, the reason is simple: Money. They have to buy the satellite time to put the fights on pay-per-view. Satellite time is expensive. To add more than five fights on a UFC pay-per-view card would cost a significant amount more. My sense is that the UFC wouldn't sell enough extra pay-per-views to make it work financially. You can buy any of the fights you want from the UFC from its "UFC on Demand" service, though.

Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.

What to Read Next