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Old 07-10-2008, 06:31 PM   #1
Unforgiven
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Unhappy Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

When was Lewis at his best ?

I always felt he peaked a bit later than most heavyweights, and that's undoubtedly due to the fact that he usually avoided getting into the sort of wars that sap a fighter's lifeblood.
Also, his technique improved after he hired Emanuel Steward as his trainer, by which time he was already 29.

I think the stretch between the Tommy Morrison fight in late 1995 and up to his win over David Tua in late 2000 was his peak years, age 30 to 35.
He later looked impressive against Rahman in the rematch, and did well against Tyson, both at age 36. His motivation was high for both fights.

It's very unusual for fighters to be at or near their best at such advanced age. It's quite clear that age did creep up on Lewis eventually though, as he carried on only half-motivated, and instead of retiring permanently after the Tyson fight, he took a long layoff and fought his last fight at age 37, looking - unsurprisingly - like an old fighter. Still, his late peak into his mid-30s is remarkable.

To constrast, Tyson, equally unusual, peaked at 21.

Joe Louis was probably at his best at 24-27

Ali looked to be peaking at 24/25 before being interrupted, regardless it's likely he would have slowed down by the age of 30 had he been active.

Dempsey was at his best at 24, over-the-hill at 31.

Holyfield - (who's STILL apparently motivated to fight at god knows how old) - was at his best in his mid-to-late 20s, and starting to look old at 30, due to so many tough fights.

Frazier peaked at 27, again probably due to tough fights.

Even Larry Holmes, a cagey fight who proved useful in his 40s, was starting to decline at 32 or 33.

Etc. Etc.

Lewis seems to have managed to out-last all those guys. The only heavyweight fighter arguably peaking later than Lewis is Jersey Joe Walcott, who started to make his mark in his early to mid 30s, and was a decent champion at 37-38.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

Manny Pac, while still young is just in his prime/peak years after 45+ fights.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

i would say in 2000 right after he won the undisputed title.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

Good points, Unforgiven.

I think part of Lewis' success is that hard fights/wars that took a lot out of other fighters were dealt with far quicker and more efficiently.

Due to a combination of reasons, Bowe goes 16 career ending rounds with Golota

Lennox? He gets him out in one.

Tyson fights 19 rounds with Ruddock?

Lennox gets him out in two.

He was a big man unlike several of the mentioned fighters as well, and he used to exceedingly well, which helped him remain the force that he was.
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Old 07-11-2008, 04:21 AM   #5
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

I think he peaked during the Golota/Briggs/McCall II fights. Indeed in a head-to-head 30+ age-class sense, i think very few fighters in history can surpass him.

Think about. Ali had impressive wins on paper against Young and Shavers when he was 35, but he hardly looked impressive and i would pick many fighters to beat him those nights... in fact, i thought Young won that fight and the Shavers one was very close. Same for Holmes, i thought he beat Spinks in the rematch, but again, at 35 he hardly looked as spectacular as Lewis did against Rahman II or Tyson. Same story with Louis, Johnson, Foreman, etc.
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Old 07-11-2008, 04:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

Lewis' best performances in my book where Ruddock, Golota and Rahman II: that's a pretty spread out timespan. It's hard to guage his prime but it probably lasted from around late '92 until the Rahman rematch, his physical peak coming during the early 90's but his 'absolute peak' in the ring was probably 96-99-ish. He was a more well rounded fighter under Stewart.
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Holmes' Jab
Lewis' best performances in my book where Ruddock, Golota and Rahman II: that's a pretty spread out timespan. It's hard to guage his prime but it probably lasted from around late '92 until the Rahman rematch, his physical peak coming during the early 90's but his 'absolute peak' in the ring was probably 96-99-ish. He was a more well rounded fighter under Stewart.
I'd agree to that. He was physically in his prime around the Ruddock fight already, but as you say his peak was later on.

It's interesting to note how fighters in general seem to hold onto their physical tools for a longer period these days. In the 80's, a heavyweight was as a general rule considered at his best at around 28-30 years of age, with a gradual decline thereafter. (depending on the fighter of course.)
Nowadays, quite a few heavyweights past the age of 30 seem to be only reaching their best at this point.

No doubt better nutition and to a lesser degree training techniques have played a part in this.
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Old 07-11-2008, 07:36 AM   #8
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Default Re: Lennox Lewis's prime/peak ?

I always think there's a mental peak, and a physical peak...and therefore a boxer's overall peak comes when those two overlap.

Like many modern heavyweights, inspired by the likes of Michael Spinks for example, I know that Lewis's training was carefully recorded and monitored every time. His performance in different areas (speedball, situps, skip rope, running, all that jazz) noted and compared, even when Davenport was his coach...though it got more hi-tech when Manny came along in recording these details.

From that, Dennis Knight and Courtney Shand both swear that the absolute best level of fitness he was ever in was for the first Holyfield fight in March '99. Closest he got after that date were the Tua and Rahman II fights, but they still weren't on the same level.

Roughly, I place his physical peak from '95-'99
Roughly, I place his mental peak from '97-'02 (Rahman I fight the big exception!)

So long story short (too late), I place Lewis's peak as from '97-'99.
That was when he had his best champions mentality while still possessing the stamina and speed of his youth.
It's not unreasonable to offer '96-'99 as well...certainly I don't think the Lewis of pre-Steward days would've had the strength and self-belief to overcome Mercer. On the other hand, the older Lewis wouldn't have been as physically capable but would've fought a smarter and easier fight, so it's always swings and roundabouts...
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