Mike Tyson may not be the only thug in the ring June 8.
Lennox Lewis' trainer is worried his fighter might go after Tyson with such ferocity that Lewis - not Tyson - risks being disqualified for a foul.
"He has that side to him that few people see, a gang type of thinking," Emanuel Steward said Thursday.
Giving some insight into the way Lewis will fight, Steward said his boxer will follow the lead of Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield - the two fighters who beat Tyson - and go right after the former heavyweight champion.
The way to beat Tyson isn't to outbox him, Steward said, but to outpunch him.
"If you fight him back and challenge him, he becomes a confused, scared kid," Steward said. "Lennox believes that in his heart."
If Lewis actually does believe that - and follows the game plan - it would be uncharacteristic of a heavyweight champion who has been known more for caution than aggressiveness throughout his career.
Lewis respected the punching ability of Holyfield too much to go after him in their two fights, backed off against Oliver McCall even when his opponent was crying in the ring and spent 12 tedious rounds staying away from David Tua.
The book on beating Tyson, though, is to keep him backing up, and Lewis can't do that if he simply tries to move and counter-punch as he did with Tua.
"Lennox is not afraid of Mike, which is something Mike Tyson is not used to," Steward said. "Fighters who have not been intimidated and have challenged Mike have had good success. Mike has never been in with a fighter who can knock him out with one punch like Lennox can."
Lewis has other reasons for wanting to go after Tyson.
In a fight that will define the champion's career, Steward said Lewis understands he not only needs to win but win in spectacular fashion if he is to go down as one of the great heavyweights of all time.
"I don't see anything beyond this that he'll fight for," Steward said. "He's got to fight his heart out to cap a 25-year career in boxing. To me, it's very important that he wins this fight impressively."
Lewis is a 2-1 favorite in Las Vegas sports books to retain his WBC heavyweight title against the tempestuous Tyson, who really hasn't fought well against anyone of any stature in more than a decade.
Tyson won most of his fights early in his career by simply intimidating opponents, but it's not likely that Lewis will be intimidated even in the biggest fight of his career.
Because Tyson does not have classic boxing skills, that basically leaves him with just a puncher's chance against Lewis.
But, oh, what a puncher he still is.
"Mike Tyson still is the most exciting and devastating heavyweight I have seen in my life," Steward said. "He still brings a certain rage and intensity and punching power no heavyweight I have seen has ever brought into the ring."
Steward, speaking on a conference call from the Lewis camp in the Poconos, said the champion was using fast, quick sparring partners who are told to come out and attack from the opening bell to prepare him for Tyson.
Lewis was planning to spar 12 rounds on Thursday and another 10 on Friday, with the fight little more than three weeks away.
Steward said punching power will likely determine the outcome of the fight, but it will be the power of Lewis and not Tyson that does it. He dismissed concerns about the chin of Lewis, who was stopped by both McCall and Hasim Rahman in title fights.
"I have no worries about Lennox Lewis' chin, the concern I have is about Mike Tyson's chin," he said. "I'm wondering if Mike Tyson can take a big punch from a 250-pound man who punches with force."
Steward said Lewis will have to take punches on the inside from Tyson, but is prepared to get into a slugfest with the former champion to impose his will in the fight.
"Lennox is prepared to be hit in this fight," Steward said. "He may have to outfight this man just like he did with Ray Mercer. It could end up being a fight where the guy in the best condition willing to take the punches and willing to gut it out wins a decision."
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