In a surprising turn of events, Lennox Lewis reveals he rejected a £5 million ($6.3M) offer for a crossover fight with WWE and UFC icon Brock Lesnar. The proposal, which could have been one of the most significant crossover events in boxing, had an unexpected twist – Lesnar would not be wearing gloves.
Crossover fights are currently in vogue, exemplified by Tyson Fury’s recent clash with UFC legend Francis Ngannou. However, this trend isn’t as modern as it seems. Rewind to 2002, and Lennox Lewis, then the undisputed heavyweight champion, faced the opportunity to pocket £5 million by stepping into the ring with WWE star Brock Lesnar.
At the time, Lewis was riding high on his victory against Mike Tyson, making him one of the most prominent boxers globally. The offer intrigued him until a peculiar condition surfaced – Lesnar would not wear gloves during the fight. Sensibly, Lewis turned down the offer, a decision that proved wise as Lesnar later found success in UFC, even becoming the heavyweight champion.
The potential bout, recently revisited in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, sheds light on the confidence WWE chief Vince McMahon had in securing the deal. Rumors circulated in 2002, but Lewis confirmed the talks in 2015, highlighting his serious consideration until the glove issue arose.
Despite not engaging in a bout with Lesnar, Lewis ended his career on a high note in 2003 by defeating future world champion Vitali Klitschko. Lewis suffered only two losses in his career, avenging both against Oliver McCall and Hashim Rahman.
Brock Lesnar, following his stint in WWE, entered UFC and clinched the heavyweight title by defeating Randy Couture in 2008. Although he faced challenges, including a positive drug test leading to a no-contest ruling, Lesnar’s star power endures. At 46, he remains a key attraction in WWE events.
While the proposed Lewis vs. Lesnar fight never materialized, crossover fights continue to dominate headlines. Floyd Mayweather’s bout with Conor McGregor in 2017 and the recent surge in exhibition matches featuring celebrities and professional fighters underscore the enduring appeal of these unique matchups.
As the realms of boxing and entertainment intersect, with fighters like Tommy Fury engaging in crossover bouts, the legacy of Lewis’s decision to forego the Lesnar fight remains a fascinating chapter in the evolving landscape of combat sports.