NEW YORK -- Lennox Lewis' defense against Michael Grant will be the biggest championship fight in history -- a combined 13 feet and 497 pounds of champion and challenger.
The 6-foot-5 Lewis officially weighed in Thursday at 247 pounds while the 6-7 Grant weighed 250 for their 12-round match Saturday night in Madison Square Garden.
The previous highest combined weight for a championship bout was 488 3/4 pounds when Primo Carnera (259') defended the title with a 15-round decision over Paulino Uzcudun (229 1/4 ) Oct. 22, 1933. The heaviest participant in a title bout was Carnera, who weighed 270 pounds when he outpointed Tommy Loughran (184) March 1, 1934.
Should Grant win, he would become the tallest heavyweight champion ever, passing 6-6 1/4 Jess Willard, champion in 1915-19.
"I don't think his height will be much of a problem," said Lewis, who beat 6-7 Henry Akinwande when Akinwande was disqualified in the fifth round for holding July 12, 1997.
Grant (31-0, 22 knockouts), however, is a much more offensive-minded fighter than Akinwande.
"It's the first time I've seen two guys of this size who have talent," said Emanuel Steward, trainer of Lewis (35-1, 27 knockouts). "Michael has enormous speed for his size. He has tremendous agility."
In-fighting and not a lot of movement, however, could be the challenger's best chance at winning.
Despite his height and reach, Grant is a good short puncher and he has been more effective fighting in close than at a distance. Lewis prefers to fight at arms length.
"I pretty much want to pressure him," said the 27-year-old Grant, of Norristown, Pa.
The 34-year-old Lewis, of Britain, was about a 2'-1 favorite. He has a distinct edge in big-fight experience and he appears to be the harder puncher.
There also is the fact that Grant was knocked down twice in the first round by Andrew Golota before rallying to knock down and stop Golota in the 10th in his last fight Nov. 20. Lewis stopped Grant in the first round Oct. 4, 1996.
Lewis, however, shrugs off comparisons of his and Grant's performances against Golota. He knows Grant got off the canvas to win.
The champion also can take a punch. He did get stopped by Oliver McCall after the referee ruled he could not continue after he got up from a knockdown in the second round Sept. 24, 1994. It, however, was remarkable that Lewis was able to beat the 10-count after being hit with a tremendous right to jaw. He was able to fight his way out of serious trouble in the first two rounds and stop Shannon Briggs in the fifth round March 29, 1998.
At stake will be the WBC and IBF titles. Lewis lost the WBA title in federal court when a judge ruled that by fighting Grant he breached the contract for his rematch with Evander Holyfield in which he agreed to make a mandatory defense against the highest available WBA challenger if he beat Holyfield.
He won all three titles on a points over Holyfield Nov. 20, a little more than eight months after the two men had fought a controversial draw in the Garden. Most people though Lewis won.
Lewis reportedly is guaranteed $10 million and Grant $4 million for the pay-per-view match (TVKO).
The telecast will begin at 9 p.m. EDT and include three other fights. The main even is expected to start about 11:30 p.m.
Immediately preceding the Lewis-Grant bout will be an IBF featherweight title defense by Paul Ingle (22-1, 15 knockouts) of England against Junior Jones (47-4, 27 knockouts), a former WBA bantamweight champion from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The other television fights are a 10-round welterweight bout between Arturo Gatti (31-4, 26 knockouts) of Jersey City, N.J., and Eric Jakubowksi (20-6, four knockouts) of Whiting, Ind., and a 12-round heavyweight match between Wladimir Klitschko (31-1, 30 knockouts) and David Bostice (21-1-1, 12 knockouts) of Mesa, Ariz.
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