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franklin county times

Column: Sleep walking through
pro boxing

By By Tony Krausz/Assistant Sports Editor
June 21, 2003
There's a heavyweight championship fight going on tonight.
Go ahead read that line again, and unless you are an avid boxing fan, can you name the two men involved in the fight?
Probably not.
Lennox Lewis versus Vitali Klitschko has got to be one of the most uninteresting fights ever in the history of boxing.
Okay, it's better than the original card of Lewis pounding the tar out of Kirk "who the hey-howdy-ho is this guy?" Johnson but still, boring.
For crying out loud the only reason there is any fight taking place in the L.A. Staples Center tonight is because the bouts in "La-La Land" were a veiled attempt to set up another Mike Tyson beating by the reigning champion.
It is a sad state of affairs when Tyson comes out of a situation as the smartest guy in the room.
A pretty intricate plot just so the boxing world can be treated to yet another showing of Lewis smacking Tyson around like he was "Fredo" from the Godfather movies.
Tyson backed out of the scheduled fight on the west coast, and the world became momentarily saved from having to watch a rematch from last year's thrashing.
The only thing of interest that happened in the Lewis-Tyson bout in Memphis, Tenn., was the fact that the two fighters didn't touch gloves before the start of the bout.
It was the first time I've seen this minuscule display of gentlemen-like conduct abandoned before a fight. But at least it did make for an interesting scene in the ring.
The squared-circle was cut into two triangles by a fleet of yellow-jacket wearing security guards separating the two fighters like they were caged animals about to be let loose on each other like two lions in the Coliseum of ancient Rome.
Honestly, it looked like something you might see in a professional wrestling story line. These are things you just can't make up, it was too good to be true.
Boxing had sunk so low that it slipped into stealing ideas from Vince McMahon.
Of course, the good times quickly ended after the first round, as Tyson got thrown around more than a one-year-old's Raggedy Ann doll.
This could have been a great fight in the pre-Tyson going to jail era.
The pedigree fighter (Lewis) squaring off against the street brawler (Tyson) would have been this generation's Hagler-Hearns, instead we got zip.
Which leads us to the present day, Lewis taking on the "Russian Mystery Man" Klitschko.
The only thing that could make this bout even remotely interesting is if Klitschko would break off Dolph Lundgren's line from Rocky IV.
How great would it be if the man labeled "Dr. Iron Fist" fed the line "I will break you" in fractured English-Russian-Ukrainian-Austrian like Drago?
You just can't rate the entertainment value of something like that.
What you can rate is the boredom factor of tonight's fight. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest point of boredom, the fight will come in at a 12.
Sure there are some intriguing plot lines, Lewis, who stands at 6-foot-5, will actually be the smaller opponent in the fight, Klitschko is 6-foot-8.
But the elder of the Ukrainian brothers plods around the ring like Frankenstein, which should make him a fairly easy target for the surprisingly agile big Brit.
In the end, the fight tonight just proves boxing may not be dead, but it is certainly on life support.
Just take a look at this little clipping from the World Boxing Organization's super middleweight class from a few years back.
It seems that a boxer by the name of Darrin Morris worked his pugilistic skills to the bone to reach the No. 5 spot in the rankings.
But there was one problem with the fighters climb up the chart He was dead.
Morris died of HIV-related meningitis while he was ranked No. 7 three months before his accent to five.
It's also regrettable that a dead opponent rising from the grave may be the only thing left to make boxing interesting again.

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