Why didn't Lewis face Ruiz and Byrd?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Bokaj, May 9, 2024.



  1. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    I have no idea what you mean with this question.
     
  2. Man_Machine

    Man_Machine Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    The Ruiz fight could have been made but King, in all likelihood, probably didn't want the match. He just wanted to force Lewis to vacate so that he could promote a bout for the vacant title.


    Following the Lewis/Holyfield I debacle, the Lewis camp were adamant they wanted no part of King beyond the rematch. They, therefore, sought to ensure that this was contractually secured as such, i.e., no future promotional rights for King being attached to the contract. However, a particular paragraph providing for Lewis to fight the WBA's "leading available contender" was carried over from the contract for Lewis/Holyfield I to the contract for the rematch. This paragraph was the source of much contention, rewording and, from the perspective of Don King, a "deal breaker" if not worded as he saw fit.

    At the time Lewis signed to fight the Holyfield rematch, Akinwande was still deemed the WBA's leading available contender, despite being unavailable due to his continued recovery from Hepatitis B, for which he'd been tested positive, sometime prior. And, regardless of Ankinwande's physical condition, the Lewis camp had absolutely no interest in another stinkfest.

    The Lewis camp did have every intention of fighting Grant and it was very much on HBO's radar to show that fight, contingent on Grant's showing and result against Golota. With the situation as it stood, in the immediate aftermath of Lewis winning the Holyfield rematch and Grant stopping Golota the following week, the Lewis/Grant bout was made in January 2000.

    Ruiz was not installed as the WBA's number-1 contender until mid-to-late February 2000. At this time, Don King made it clear that he expected Lewis to be forced to vacate the title and had already made plans to put on Holyfield/Ruiz. However, there is every reason to believe that Lewis had agreed to fight Ruiz in July 2000, which precipitated the conditional blessing of the WBA for the Lewis/Grant bout in March 2000.

    A BBC article captures the essence of the above: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sport/683342.stm

    The decision to enforce the paragraph in the contract, concerning Lewis' obligation to fight the WBA's leading contender, ultimately came down to the wording of that paragraph, which had left little room for either the WBA or Lewis to maneuver within the rules. And so, the WBA had little choice but to strip Lewis based on the Judges ruling. Moreover, by the time that ruling was made (12th April, 2000), there was little to nothing Lewis could have done to try and resolve the matter within the constraints of the ruling - and, even had he been able to, certainly not without shafting himself and other parties financially.
     
  3. Man_Machine

    Man_Machine Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    You're right that Lewis didn't fancy meeting Byrd but only because, in Byrd, there was neither glory nor money on offer (and this included any kind of value in a promotional build-up for a Tyson rematch).

    No one wanted the fight, not even King, which is why he offered and paid Lewis $1M to ditch the belt.

    It is also worth remembering that Lewis also had a WBC mandatory challenger in Vitali K and a date of 7th of December 2002 had been penciled in for that match to happen on HBO. Sure, there were a few twists and turns before that fight actually came to pass, but ultimately, it proved to be the better route for Lewis to take.

    I am not saying that this is what you are asserting or even implying, but any suggestion that Lewis considered Byrd to be a threat is and will remain one of the more absurd takes on Lewis' career - and, for really quite obvious reasons.
     
  4. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Do you mean that Kirk Johnson was a fight that was more wanted?
     
  5. Saintpat

    Saintpat Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    You seem to criticize Lewis for not facing Byrd … yet Tyson avoided Lewis and gave up a belt to do so. Do you equally criticize Tyson for ducking Lennox?
     
  6. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    I think that Tyson's duck of Lewis is much clearer and much worse. That was a straight up duck and I've stated so several times.

    As for Lewis and Byrd I haven't really decided where I'm at, that's why I started this thread. As a fact finding mission.
     
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  7. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Grant instead of Ruiz seems like a good choice at he time and it also seems like King forced through Lewis being stripped by the WBA, not Lewis's doing.

    But as for Byrd, I have yet to see how Lewis went for a better alternative. He signed to fight Kirk Johnson a year after the Tyson fight, and why that schedule and choice of opponent would exclude Byrd is unclear to me. But maybe there's some information on it that I'm missing, but still unclear what.
     
  8. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I think it's more what others have said neither Ruiz or Byrd brought much to the table and no one was really clamouring for either fight TBH.

    I don't think Ruiz adds anything to Lewis's resume although i think Byrd would've have just so we could've of seen Lewis beat an elite Southpaw. But after what Wladimir did to Byrd twice i can't really see Byrd being that competitive vs Lewis in all honesty.

    It's one of them where Lewis may of turned down both fights but i don't believe he was scared or worried by either fighter in the slightest and he was chasing the bigger money fights.
     
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  9. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    @Bokaj here's what Lewis thought in regards to Kirk Johnson and Chris Byrd.


    Question: What has Johnson done to deserve this fight?

    Lewis: Johnson has been around a long time. He had a great knockout against Lou Savarese. I think he is well deserving of a shot. I think he is very dangerous, and I think it is about time he gets a chance to box the heavyweight champion of the world.

    Question: Is Johnson more deserving than Chris Byrd?

    Lewis: I cannot fight everyone at once. I have to take one at a time. I think Kirk Johnson is a more exciting fighter than Chris Byrd. A lot of people agree with me when it comes to that. Johnson throws some heavy punches and is a knockout fighter. This is what people want to see. They want to see a fight, they want to see punches and they want to see action.

    Question: Do you care if Mike Tyson is on this card with you?

    Lewis: We are optimistic about it (Tyson fighting on the card). I am not really worried about it now. I am worried about myself. I am the heavyweight champion of the world, and the greatest heavyweight you have seen for a long while. With Tyson on the card, it is definitely an added bonus because Lewis-Tyson on the same card would be a great doubleheader. This is what the fans want to see.
     
  10. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    But was anyone clamouring for a fight with Kirk Johnson? As I wrote in the previous post, Grant over Ruiz I understand and apparently King was also in there doing his things to make sure Lewis was stripped. But Johnson instead of Byrd is less clear to me.
     
  11. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Thanks! Good to hear his argument for it. I don't know Kirk Johnson myself, but do others agree with this? Was Johnson a more exciting opponent or was he just easier? He was ranked nr 8 by The Ring going into 2002, Byrd was ranked nr 2.

    For comparison, Grant was ranked behind just Holy and Lewis himself going into 2000 and Ruiz was unranked.
     
  12. Dynamicpuncher

    Dynamicpuncher Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I'm not the most knowledgeable on Kirk Johnson but i remember watching his fight vs Oleg Maskaev and i was quite impressed with him in that fight. The John Ruiz was considered a bit of a farce from memory i believe Johnson was winning the fight and Ruiz milked a foul and Johnson got DQ'ed. The Savarese fight was a decent performance and a good knockout via a uppercut ? if i remember rightly.

    So in reality Johnson only had 1 loss to Ruiz which was a DQ and not really a true loss, Johnson was also Canadian so i guess they could've made some sort of angle with Lewis winning an Olympic Gold for Canada aswell.

    All in all could you make an argument Byrd was technically the more deserving opponent ? yes. But as i said Byrd had no hype about him due to his boring style, and the public nor HBO were really interested in the fight.

    Would i call it a duck ? no because i don't think Lewis was actually worried about losing to Byrd, i think at that time Lewis was coming to the end of his career and was chasing bigger money fights or fights that he thought appealed more to the public.

    Having an snoozefest vs Byrd isn't going to appeal to the masses although i'm sure hardcore boxing fans would've been intrigued to see it.
     
  13. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Byrd wasn't that exciting, no, and might also have been seen as a higher risk of making Lewis look bad.

    I comparison with Patterson defending against Harris instead of Machen seems appropiate. Harris being white probably meant a higher box office than Machen who probably wasn't much of a draw.

    Harris was higher ranked than Johnson, though, but maybe some leeway could be given Lewis seeing how he was at the end of his career while Floyd was smack in the middle of his. Byrd in 2003 could have been have been in Lewis's top 3 opponents over all, certainly top 5.
     
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  14. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    My take is that Lewis didn't duck Ruiz. Grant was a more worthy challenger at the time and it seems that it was King's meddling that made it impossible for Lewis to face Ruiz as well.

    Byrd I do think has the properties of a duck, though. He was mandatory and also probably the most deserving contender overall after Wlad lost to Sanders in early 2003. It could be that Lewis went with Johnson instead because he considered him a more exciting opponent and bigger draw as he claimed, but what ever his reasons Byrd was more deserving of a shot.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2024
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  15. Man_Machine

    Man_Machine Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I haven't come even close to making that assertion and you seem to be positioning the matter as though Lewis' decision was based on a straight choice between Byrd and Johnson? It wasn't.

    The Johnson fight came into view months later, as part of a package that was to feature Tyson on the card as part of a double-header, working towards the Lewis/Tyson rematch. (Tyson pulled out, Johnson pulled out and we ended up with Lewis/Vitali).

    Byrd didn't figure into this kind of promotion, not least because he was, as Manny Steward once put it so bluntly, "unwatchable".
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2024
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