Lennox Lewis weighed in on a conference call Wednesday and offered fight fans some insight on what Vitali Klitschko (41-2; turns 40 in July), who gloved up with Lewis in the Brit's last pro bout, in 2003, has to do to take down challenger Odlanier Solis on Saturday.
"I believe that he has to really do what he usually does, and that's keep that jab out there and keep his man off balance," said the 45-year-old Lewis, who will do analysis on the fight, along with Sam Rosen and Tony Paige. "He does that really well. I noticed that he hasn't been moving too much on his feet. He still has to keep that foot movement and give his opponent some different angles.
Lewis also told fans what the immense Cuban, the 30-year-old Solis, has to do to spring the upset. "I think he needs to really go to the body and just really come inside on Klitschko and really not get hit while he's coming inside and also use his feet, because I noticed that he's stationary on his feet – a little more feet action. He's got a tremendous history," Lewis said of the hitter, who held a 227-14 amateur record, and won heavyweight gold at the 2004 Olympic Games. "It kind of reminds me of my own being a world junior champion and having all the different amateur accolades. I think if he puts a lot of that into motion, use a lot of different amateur moves, such as you know combination punches and some quickness and definitely, like I said, on the body, and throw some good left hooks to the head as well if he reaches Klitschko's. Because, like I said, Klitschko's long and he moves back all the time. So he's a little bit awkward."
I would've liked to see Lewis bring up what I see as the single biggest X factor with Solis: will he be roly poly, or fit and trim on Saturday? Along the lines of Samuel Peter, Solis impacts his flexibility and mobility by packing on too many pounds on his 6-1 1/2 inch frame. In his 17 pro fights, he's been in the 240s three times, the 250s ten times, in the 260s three times, and was in the 270s (271) once, against Monte Barrett in 2009. The extra bulk hasn't hampered him too badly, he is after all undefeated. But unless he's the lightest he's been as a pro at the weigh-in today, then I wouldn't be inclined to wager a dime on the Cuban.
In case any of you were still pining for Lewis to ditch the mike and put the trunks back on, the 45 year old threw cold water on that idea, for the record. He was asked, "Are you surprised that Vitali is this effective at his age? You know he's pushing 40 and still virtually unbeatable? Lewis answered, "He's got a good diet and he's still got a lot of drive in him to continue, which is great. I've passed my prime in that sense, and I just want to do other things."
Lewis, I have to be honest, annoyed me when he went into shill mode, when someone asked, "How do you see David Haye and his chances of beating Wladimir or Vitali. We don't know who will be in the ring, but – so probably Wladimir. How do you see his chances?"
"I think we should talk about that when that fight happens, but right now you should ask me about Solis," Lewis said.
C'mon big man, you're one of us now, stop pandering to the promoters, will you?
He got off the wussy wagon when asked who would win Saturday. "Obviously the best boxer of the night," he said. "I think Klitschko has a tremendous advantage, just because you know the experience aspect, the height, the reach and the fact that he doesn't get hit too often. And he knows how to really use his weight. So I think the man with the most advantages is obviously Vitali Klitschko. So you know I'm edging him to win."
Vitali finished the call on a classy note, addressing the sad, scary saga in Japan, which is holding its collective breath as the threat of a meltdown at nuclear reactors impacted by the tsunami last weekend looms. "I know one of the judges will be from Japan, and coming from Ukraine, and I was, in 1986, close to Chernobyl. My father was there. And I know how big this tragedy is. And I understand right now the attention of the whole world is on Japan, and everybody is looking how the situation will develop. I want to support Japan's people. I want to support the people who are fighting right now against this tragedy. And we definitely will make a donation from this fight to support Japan. Sport connects people – sport can change the world. And I'm more than sure we have a lot of power to help the Japanese people who have problems – first from the earthquake and from the tsunami and now their nuclear problem."
TSS Universe, I see this one going the distance, with Solis touching Vitali a bit more than he's been touched recently. But he won't have much more luck getting past the force field jab than others have. Klitschko UD12. How do you all see it?
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