Now that Lennox Lewis has disposed of Francois Botha, does he turn his sights to a big payday fight against Mike Tyson?
There is no doubt Lewis wants to fight Tyson, and the sooner the better. In all reality, a Tyson fight for Lewis is only one of many opportunities for the heavyweight champion Lewis. While a Tyson fight figures to be the biggest payday out there for him, Lewis will likely not get a shot at Iron Mike this year, and maybe never.
First things first .... Lewis, as you know, had little trouble against Botha, the transplanted South African now fighting out of Newport Beach, Calif.
A picture-perfect three-punch flurry to the jaw and head of Botha ended the one-sided fight at the 2:39 mark of round two of their scheduled 12-round title fight at the London Arena Saturday night.
The London-born Lewis staggered Botha and buckled his knees midway through round one with a right to the head, and you knew right then Botha wasn't going to last much longer.
A right-left-right finished Botha off, and even though Botha beat the 10-count after being draped over the bottom ropes from the knockdown, he was only going to get hurt - maybe seriously - if the referee didn't stop it then. The fight could have been allowed to continue, but it would have served no purpose beyond seeing Botha sprawled out on the canvas and being counted out instead of finishing on his feet.
It was a good call by referee Larry O'Connell. And if you didn't know, O'Connell was the judge who called the first Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight a draw. How he got this fight to work is questionable, but in fairness, he did a good job and stopped the fight when it should have been stopped.
Don't be fooled by this fight result, either. It was just like Tyson's quick win over Lou Savarese. There was no competition from Botha at all. This was not the Botha who came to fight Tyson and won every round until Tyson knocked him out with a right in round five.
Botha didn't fight a lick! Other than throwing and missing some wild shots, Botha was nothing but a slow moving target for Lewis. It looked like Botha was fighting to survive rather than to win. That plan never seems to work for any fighter, and it sure didn't for Botha!
As for Tyson, Lewis would love to fight him next. Lewis is in top form and ready, while Tyson is in poor form and not near ready to fight a bigger (Lewis would outweigh Tyson by at least 25 pounds and have a huge height and reach advantage over Iron Mike) and stronger Lewis.
Tyson, on the other hand, would be foolish to fight Lewis now . He needs to get some real fights and some rounds under his belt before fighting for the title. Tyson can beat up on a few turkeys, but if he doesn't fight creditable opponents, he will get knocked out by Lewis if they do fight.
Another advantage for Tyson would be to let Lewis fight David Tua - that's Lewis' proposed next title defense in November - and a few more tough dudes, and then maybe Lewis will be softened-up for Tyson when, or if, they do fight next year.
Lewis is almost 35 years old, and a couple of tough fights can age you in a hurry. So it looks like a Tyson fight against Lewis is better for Tyson down the road rather than now.
Don't forget, Tyson and Lewis have bitter rivals for promoters, and the odds of them putting aside their differences and getting this fight on are not very bright, so don't hold your breath waiting for this one.
-- The fight was shown on HBO, and they also showed a pretty good heavyweight fight to open the telecast. That was the fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Monte Barrett that saw Barrett (23-2, 14 KOs) get knocked down five times before the referee stopped the one-sided but interesting bout at the 2:42 mark of round seven.
Barrett, from Queens, N.Y., had never been knocked down before this fight, but he was down enough in this fight to make up for that.
As for Klitschko (34-1, 32 KOs), the Russian fighter from Kiev, Ukraine, looked impressive, and he is a good possibility to fight Lewis before Tyson ever does. Klitschko is a big man too. He weighed 244 pounds (Lewis weighed 250 for his fight) and outweighed the smaller Barrett by 23 pounds.
Some may remember Klitschko from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He won the gold medal in the super heavyweight division and was only 20 at the time. At age 24, the Russian fighter is just coming into his prime and looks like a serious contender for the title.
-- Harrah's Reno has a live fight card this Friday on the Plaza. Main event has Wilfredo Rivera (30-4-1, 19 KOs) fighting Gerald Coleman (16-15, 7 KOs), and the semi-main has Freddy Ladd (44-3, 33 KOs) taking on Daniel Mendez (10-12-1, 5 KOs).
There are five fights total on the card, which starts at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20 for general admission.
-- Another clunker for the ESPN2 Friday night fights main event last week. Greg Wright (19-5-2, 6 KOs) fought Chris Johnson ( 25-2-1, 14 KOs) for the NABF light heavyweight title and in a chess-match, tactical kind of fight that was not very exciting, Johnson won a unanimous decision to capture that title.
Maybe they'll do better this week on their telecast. The main event has Teddy Reid (16-3-1) fighting Golden Johnson (18-4-2) for the vacant NABF super lightweight title. Starts at 6 p.m.
-- Also on the tube Friday night is Tua (36-1, 31 KOs) getting his stiff for the month when he fights washed-up, over-the-hill and blown-up cruiserweight Robert Daniels (39-4-1, 32 KOs) on Showtime at 11:30 p.m.
Another quick KO and mismatch for Tua, who you may remember knocked out inept Gary Bell in the first round at Caesars Tahoe last summer.
-- A good fight set for Saturday on HBO with a weird starting time of 7:45 p.m. One of the best fighters around, Felix Trinidad (37-0) defends his WBA junior middleweight title against Mamadou Thiam (33-1) in what should be a barn-burner. Thiam can fight, and if Trinidad takes him lightly, he might be surprised before all is said and done.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.