As heavyweight rivalries go, few have been fiercer than Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis’s.
The heavyweight legends have buried the hatchet now so to speak, but would seemingly still jump at the chance to try and knock each other’s block off in the right circumstances.
It’s little surprise then that almost 20 years after they settled their differences in the ring, there is now talk of them jumping back in to do it all again.
Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis have history after their brutal 2002 heavyweight clash
Nineteen years later, with the pair both in their 50s, Tyson and Lewis could fight again
Of course this time it will be friendly-natured with more pleasantries and fewer obscenities.
Tyson, now 54, says the exhibition fight with Lewis could happen this September. The reason for the fight will be as much about making entertainment as it is to satisfy their desires to compete again.
Tyson insisted that last year’s exhibition with Roy Jones Jr would not be his final dance while his comeback appears to have stoked up feelings of nostalgia in former fighters with Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya also entertaining talk of a making needless returns to the ring.
If the fight between Tyson and Lewis does happen, it will be just the latest episode in what has been a long-standing rivalry.
The bad blood between them was established during the heated and, often, ugly lead up to their 2002 blockbuster fight.
Tyson dominated the build-up to his fight with Lewis via his obscenities at press conferences
Lewis and Tyson famously got entangled in a mass brawl at one presser in New York
The skirmish started after Tyson stormed over to Lewis and swung at one of his bodyguards
Although they were two of the hardest-hitting and formidable heavyweights in the world, the story line was dominated by press conference brawls and bizarre rants from Tyson, who often trespassed across the flexible line of decency.
The Baddest Man on the Planet famously said in the build-up: ‘I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there’s ever been.
‘There’s no one that can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I’m the best ever.
‘There’s never been anybody as ruthless. There’s no one like me. There’s no one that can match me.
‘My style is impetuous, my defence is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children.’
The friction between the two was there for all to see when Tyson started a mass brawl at a press conference in New York when he marched over towards his adversary and swung a left hook at Lewis’ bodyguard.
‘Iron Mike’ bizarrely threatened to eat Lewis’ children during one of his pre-fight rants
There was so much hostility in the lead-up that they were separated in the ring before the fight
All-out carnage broke loose as punches were traded and security staff tried to break up the melee. Tyson subsequently had to pay Lewis $335,000 for biting his leg during the skirmish.
‘All of a sudden I saw him take his hat off, throw it on the ground and start marching towards me,’ Lewis recalled in the years after.
‘I didn’t want that fight that to happen. I, in fact, I couldn’t believe it happened. Why would the man attack me?
‘I thought it was a sucker move in one sense. We’re going to make millions, so I was thinking what is he doing? Maybe he didn’t want the fight to happen.
‘But I don’t think the millions mattered at that time. I got in the first three punches but he got in the first bite. I was shocked that he was biting me on my leg. I’d never been bitten by a human before.’
Lewis would have the last laugh and dished out a brutal beating over eight punishing rounds
The fight came to an end when Lewis landed a crushing right hand that wiped out Tyson
MIKE TYSON’S PRO RECORD
LENNOX LEWIS’ PRO RECORD
There had been so much hostility in the build-up that moments before the first bell a line of event staff stood between Tyson and Lewis to separate them in the ring out of fear they wouldn’t wait for the fight to start to trade punches.
It would be Lewis who would have the last laugh though, dishing out a one-sided beating before knocking out Tyson in the eighth round to capture the WBC, IBO and IBF world titles.
Although their rivalry stemmed from the viscous 2002 encounter, Lewis and Tyson had actually first crossed paths years earlier.
Former heavyweight champion Lewis remembers a particular sparring session when a teenage Tyson tried to ‘kill’ him.
‘I remember going to the Catskills. I won the World Junior Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and I remember the American team were like, “Oh you never fought the best”‘ Lewis recounted.
‘They told me it was Mike Tyson and Cus D’Amato. So me and my trainer left Canada and we drove all the way up there [to Catskill].
Lewis remembers his first brush with Tyson when a young Iron Mike tried to kill him in sparring
‘While we were up there, [Donovan] Razor Ruddock was up there. They said, “Razor Ruddock didn’t spar with us”. So I said, “Okay, I’ll spar with you, I’m here for four days”.
‘The first time Tyson actually met me he was a really nice guy, he took me to his room and showed me some old flicks that I have never seen before of old time fighters.
‘He would tell me about each fighter, he studied them. This was where he got his style of fighting from.
‘But on the first day in the gym and when the bell went he came across and he was trying to kill me.
‘I tried the Muhammad Ali thing obviously and stayed away from his power but the first day was really hectic, the second day was hectic but actually on the last day I got the better of him.
Tyson made his return to boxing aged 54 after taking on Roy Jones Jr in an exhibition bout
‘I remember Cus D’Amato saying, “Mike! You’re going to meet him some day, don’t you do that!”
‘And that always echoed on my mind, “Will we ever fight?”. Because Cus D’Amato said we were going to fight, and it did happen.’
But no one could have predicted we’d be talking about a potential rematch 19 years after.