April 14, 2000
After weeks of speculation, Lennox Lewis, having won the Undisputed World
Heavyweight Championship from Evander Holyfield on November 13, was recently
stripped in a New York City courtroom of the World Boxing Association crown
for his refusal to fight their No. 1 contender, Johnny Ruiz.
Lewis promised to fight Ruiz in July. However, since Lewis, according to
Ruiz' promoter Don King, signed a contractual obligation to fight Ruiz after
winning both the WBA & IBF belts from Holyfield, Lewis did not have much of
an option in the whole ideal.
Lewis' people argued that Ruiz is not the most qualified contender available.
Instead, Lewis signed to fight Michael Grant, a 6' 7," 250-pound muscle-bound
fighter who really isn't "all that," on April 29 at Madison Square Garden.
The decision made by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan will be appealed, but
not before Lewis' defense of the remaining two championship belts - the World
Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles.
As of press time, the WBA title is vacant. However, King, who promotes both
Ruiz and Holyfield, plans to match both fighters in order to fulfill the
vacancy. No date has been announced as of yet, but the most likely targeted
date would be June 10, in Las Vegas.
Sadly enough, Ruiz isn't "all that" himself. On March 6, 1996, David Tua, the
IBF's mandatory heavyweight contender for Lewis' crown, knocked out Ruiz in
10 seconds. Overall, the 27-year-old, Ruiz is 36-3, 26KOs, and has won his
previous 6 fights. The biggest names on his record (aside from Tua) are Jimmy
Thunder (W 12) and Tony Tucker (TKO 11).
With Lewis being losing his title in a courthouse, this not only opens
another door for Holyfield, but should both Lewis and Holyfield emerge
successful against Grant and Ruiz respectively, then there would be
possibility of a Lewis-Holyfield III. Lewis already beat the man twice - the
first time being a "controversial draw" on March 13, 1999.
Boxing just keeps lowering itself to new levels month after month.