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Lennox Lewis

Turned Professional As A Boxer

In 1989, Lewis turned professional, but instead of remaining in Canada, he returned to Great Britain. He did this, in part, because a group of British backers, including manager Frank Maloney, gave him big signing bonus. There were also accusations that he was being used in Canada and his boxing career was not moving forward. Lewis also picked up a new trainer, American John Davenport, who emphasized the athleticism of the 6'5", 230 lbs boxer.

Lewis's first professional fight was against Al Malcolm on June 27, 1989, in London. Lewis won in the second round. He soon dominated the competition in Europe. In 1990, he became European heavyweight champion by defeating Jean Chanet. In 1991, he defeated Gary Mason by TKO to become British heavyweight champion. The fight ended Mason's career, though it was not much of a bout.

Many of Lewis's early fights were not unlike the Mason fight. Most of his first sixteen fights were with unworthy competition, like 39-year-old former WBA (World Boxing Association) champion Mike Weaver, whom Lewis knocked out in the sixth round. These fights brought Lewis little respect in the boxing community, but his handlers wanted to start him slowly.

Lewis had undeniable talent. He was not just a fighter, but a great boxer and great puncher. While his knockout punch was his right, he also had a strong jab. Though his competition had not been strong, Lewis had attracted enough attention to get a two-fight deal with HBO and three-fight pay per view deal with Time Warner in 1991.

In February 1992, Lewis was pushed to the full ten rounds in a fight against Levi Billups. This led to a change in trainers, as Lewis felt he had become a very mechanical fighter. He hired Sugar Ray Leonard's trainer Pepe Correa. Correa was in Lewis's corner as Lewis was inching near to contending for a world heavyweight title.

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