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Lennox readies a punch for Vitali

Los Angeles: Lennox Lewis once joked he’d have one of the boxing Klitschko brothers for breakfast and the other for lunch, and the banquet is set to begin Saturday when Lewis puts his World Boxing Council heavyweight title on the line against Vitali Klitschko. Lewis goes into Saturday’s hastily arranged bout the prohibitive favourite, even though he hasn’t fought since knocking out Mike Tyson in the eighth round in Memphis last June.

The champion had been expected to take on Canadian Kirk Johnson in a fight the WBC didn’t consider worthy of world championship designation. Klitschko was fighting Cedric Boswell on the undercard, part of a build-up to a pay-per-view showdown later this year. When Johnson withdrew, citing a pulled pectoral muscle, Lewis went to Klitschko, the WBC’s top-rated contender. “Why wait'” Lewis said. “This will show how great I am, how I can adjust. This is my chance to show the world I can do that. I believe I am a boxer who can adjust and adapt to anything he brings.”

“I’m excited about it,” added Lewis, who brings a record of 40 wins, two defeats and one draw, with 31 victories inside the distance. “I look at him as a good challenge. He says he’s seen some weaknesses in me. I’ve seen a heap of weaknesses in him. Tomorrow night I’m going to expose those weaknesses.”

That was about the meanest pre-fight provocation either boxer came up with, a far cry from the build-up to Lewis-Tyson, in which one press conference devolved into a brawl that saw Lewis throw a punch and Tyson bite Lewis on the leg.

Lewis’ trainer, Emanuel Steward, said he expects the 37-year-old champion to adapt seamlessly to Klitschko despite preparing for Johnson.

“The reason I pick Lennox by knockout within five rounds is because I know that Vitali isn’t going to run,” Steward said. “He doesn't know how to run.” Steward says Lewis has an edge in the quality of his past opponents as well as his experience. The 6-foot-5 Lewis gives up three inches in height to Klitschko, and Steward thinks even that will be an advantage.

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