I am confident that for most boxing fans, June 21, 2003 is a day not to be forgotten. On that day, millions of boxing fans around the globe were left extremely unsatisfied due to the controversial end of the Vitali Klitschko (43-2-0) vs. Lennox Lewis (41-2-1) bout, ending due to a cut above Vitali’s eye in Round 6.
The matchup was talked about and impatiently awaited for by all boxing fans at the time. Their fight was on top of all boxing news columns and magazines. This was comparable to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao of the heavyweight division at that time.
The fight, as long as it lasted, did not disappoint the fans. It was an action bout with both fighters showing heart and skill. Punches and combinations were traded, with both men landing great hard shots that would drop most other heavyweights. Right before the fight was stopped, both men were landing, and it seemed that very soon, one of them was going to hit the canvas, likely in the very next round. Unfortunately, the next round never came. Fans booed Lennox and cheered Vitali at the end of that night, seeing that the Ukrainian champion could have possibly won the fight.
Many fans had confidence in a rematch being realized, but it never came to fruition. Speculation and blame were circling the boxing forums and magazines for months on end. Which fighter did not want to fight, and why not? Was money the stalling factor?
Lennox Lewis fans were claiming that Lennox was clearly won the fight, thus had no obligation to offer Vitali a rematch. They supported his decision in retiring a world champion without presenting Vitali another shot at the title; they were sure that he had nothing else to prove in his boxing career.
Vitali Klitschko fans were outraged with Lennox’s decision to leave the sport, and were convinced that he was too scared to face the giant Ukrainian again. They were certain that Vitali was clearly winning in that fight, and would have knocked Lennox out in within the next few rounds.
But what really caused the talks of a rematch to cease was neither Vitali’s nor Lennox’s doing, instead it was all because of a woman. According to a recent interview with Lennox’s former master trainer Emanuel Steward, Lennox’s wife Violet Chang did not want him to ever box again, giving him an ultimatum to choose: it’s either boxing or her. (East Side Boxing' One the Ropes Boxing Radio Program, Geoffrey Ciani).
“I told Lennox after the fight: I feel like we owe Vitali a rematch. Lennox agreed with me. Even after a year since Lennox left boxing, we talked about that fight. She didn’t want him to continue boxing, despite the fact that Lewis still wanted to fight. If Vitali and him were able to secure a rematch, it would be very intriguing.”
After millions of posts by fans calling both fighters cowards for various reasons, the truth comes out to be utterly different from what anyone thought it was.
I am aware that this might bring more hate and criticism towards Lennox, but come on people, his wife and mother of his children has got to be more important than one fight. Lennox gave us many years of dedication and entertainment, so let’s not blame him for something most men would do in his situation, as well.