Lewis on Tyson: 'definitely a puppy with some problems'

Wednesday, May 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SCOTRUN, Pa. (AP) _ With less than a month before the biggest fight of his career, Lennox Lewis wonders about Mike Tyson's state of mind.

``You can't help but feel sorry for him,'' Lewis said Tuesday at his training camp in the Poconos, where he's preparing for his June 8 fight with Tyson in Memphis, Tenn. ``This is definitely a puppy with some problems.''

Hunkered down with trainer Emanuel Steward and the rest of his team at a secluded mountain resort, Lewis has been sparring, training and running lonely country roads at dawn for six weeks.

The heavyweight champion looked lean and confident as he sat on the apron of a practice ring Tuesday, holding forth about his legacy and the fight he needs to burnish it.

He faces an opponent who was disqualified from a 1997 title fight for biting Evander Holyfield's ears. Tyson resorted to such tactics again at a Jan. 22 news conference promoting this bout.

During a bizarre melee, he bit Lewis' thigh, gouging a quarter-sized chunk out of it. In doing so, he ratcheted up Lewis' desire to lay claim as the heavyweight division's dominant fighter.

``A lot of people remember Tyson as he was, past tense,'' Lewis said. ``I'm going to prove I'm the best there is now.''

Lewis plans to attack Tyson when the bell rings because Tyson's balance is suspect and he hates to back up, Steward said. But the 35-year-old former heavyweight champion is still capable of a one-punch knockout, the kind of blow that sent Lewis to the two losses on his 39-2-1 record.

``The fight's supposed to go 12, but anything can happen in that time,'' said Lewis, who predicted victory but wouldn't say how or when.

Tyson weighed 239 for his last fight, a seventh-round TKO of Brian Nielsen. If he comes in at 220 or less, he'll probably be weaker, Steward said.

Steward acknowledges that Tyson's skills have eroded since he terrorized heavyweights in the late 1980s, but he has warned Lewis that all it takes is one punch.

``No one breaks with the viciousness or intensity of Mike Tyson,'' Steward said.

Lewis, who will weigh about 250, knows his career might ride on the outcome.

He's unfazed by Tyson's harsh words this month from his training camp in Hawaii.

``I will take Lennox's title, his soul and smear his pompous brains all over the ring when I hit him,'' said Tyson, 49-3, with two no-contests.

Mainly, Lewis hopes Tyson sticks to his fists.

``I'm going to insist he has a big lunch and a big dinner before he steps in there,'' Lewis said. ``And I'm going to have my hair pinned up so he can't pull it. I don't know what else he could possibly do. We'll see.''

The referee has not been decided for the sellout bout at The Pyramid.

The WBC and the Lewis and Tyson camps have agreed on a ref, but Tennessee officials haven't, said Gary Shaw, chief operating officer of Main Events, Lewis' promoter.

Steward said he would oppose any referee from Tennessee because he knows of no one from the state with the experience for a fight like this.

``It's not anything against the state of Tennessee,'' he said.