Originally created 01/16/04

Lewis trainer says he believes Klitschko rematch likely



The trainer for Lennox Lewis believes the heavyweight champion will fight Vitali Klitschko in a rematch that could occur as early as April 24.

Emanuel Steward said Thursday that he has told members of his training staff to be ready to get into camp should Lewis decide to fight again.

"He has not made a commitment but I've told everybody in our camp to be prepared for an April or May fight," Steward said.

Klitschko said he's also preparing as if Lewis will fight. But he, too, has heard nothing from the champion about a rematch.

"Right now, everything depends on Lennox Lewis. That's why I'm waiting for confirmation from Lennox," Klitschko said on the phone from Germany. "It's not just me. The broadcaster is waiting, many boxing fans are waiting."

The 38-year-old Lewis has been secretive about his future plans, leading to speculation that he will retire rather than take another risky bout against Klitschko, who engaged him in a bloody slugfest in their fight last June 21.

Steward, though, told The Associated Press that he believes Lewis wants to fight Klitschko again to make a final statement before finally retiring.

"It's a tough way to go out with a fight like the last one," Steward said. "I think he wants to get it out of his way before finishing his career."

Lewis was losing on all three scorecards and had taken some big punches from Klitschko when their first fight was stopped and he was declared the winner because of bloody cuts on Klitschko's face.

Lewis was expected to fight Klitschko in the rematch on Dec. 6, but backed out, saying he was contemplating retirement and would not fight again in 2003. Klitschko met Kirk Johnson instead at Madison Square Garden, knocking him out in the second round.

HBO, which would televise the fight, most likely on pay-per-view, has an April 24 date open. The fight could also be held in May or early June, with Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden being the likely sites.

HBO executives declined to comment on the possible fight, saying it would be up to Lewis to make any statements.

Lewis has fought only twice in the last 26 months, and would likely lose his WBC title if he doesn't fight by June. If that happens, Klitschko would fight Corrie Sanders for the vacant title. Sanders knocked out Klitschko's younger brother, Wladimir, last year.

"My next fight will be for the world championship," Klitschko said. "I beat Lennox Lewis the first time and I will be ready to beat him the second time. If he doesn't want to fight me, I will fight Corrie Sanders instead."