Ian Lewison

Taking time out of a boxing ring often goes one of two ways for a fighter; re-invigoration or retirement.  Taking that break from competition can give a boxer perspective and make them realise that there is more that could be achieved or they can find that life away from training camps and the pressures that pugilism bring is a relief, something they are happy to stay away from.

For Brixton’s Ian Lewison he has had over 18 months since we last saw him in a boxing ring, the last time being a four round points victory over Hrvoje Kisicek in July 2014.  With a record of 10 win, 2 losses and a draw the London heavyweight is a former Southern Area title holder who has always been renowned as a man with talent but perhaps not the application to match it.  However speaking to Lewison, now approaching his 34th birthday, it is clear that the break has revitalised him and he acknowledges that if he is to fulfil his potential then the time is now.

“I wouldn't say it (the time out of the ring) hasn't helped and I wouldn't say it has helped, but the fact is that it is what is it and I'm making lemonade out of lemons.  I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring, it's been a long time” says Lewison.  “I'm not a fan of training but I'd always give a fight a go and turn up. I've just never been keen on the training side of things but I love the fighting.  I'm in a good place, where I've got to now since my fight has been arranged; I feel good. My body is working exactly how I'd like it to be and want it to be.  I'm feeling in good shape.  I'm the type of person that if I feel good, I perform good. I'm rather temperamental, if I train well then I fight well. It's funny, when I have a bad fight it's a terrible fight but when I have a good fight, it's a really good fight!”
On April 30th Lewison will be back in the ring at York Hall which is a familiar venue to him, the place where he won the Southern Area belt in September 2013 and has participated in the three round Prizefighter format before.  There was a frustration for Lewison, watching others that he was confident of beating achieving in the sport he loves.  “The worst thing is, you take time out and you watch people fight for titles and you think to yourself 'I used to best them up in the gym!' but they're out there winning titles and you're sat at home with a big fish and chips belly thinking about when you used to beat that person up.  The difference is they were consistent and stayed at it and I never. I could only watch and commentate from the sofa, that ain't happening again. This time around I'm grabbing the bull by the horns and I'm going with it 100%” he says with a refreshing honesty.  But there was another, bigger reason that acted as the catalyst to get the gloves back on.

“The prompt for me was that I sparred with (Anthony) Joshua a good few times and I feel I have the beating of him and I honestly feel I can beat him. Obviously he's improved a lot since then but I genuinely feel that would be a good entertaining fight and that I could beat him. People like Lucas Browne who have gone and won a world title. When I see that I think he was never that good but he's won a world title because he's remained consistent. The fact is I want that.”

It is a lofty ambition, no doubt, and a longer term aim.  So what are the shorter term aspirations for Lewison as he approaches his comeback and does it involve looking at claiming his old Southern Area belt?  “I won the Southern Area title and vacated it, I never bothered to defend it.  The fact is, the Southern Area to me isn't my aspiration. That's not to disrespect it but my aspirations are further than that.  For me to fight for that again, that's like me not having confidence in myself being able to move past that level. The fact is that I want a couple of fights now and then move on towards the British and Commonwealth titles. I want to test myself against the best competition.”

So what are the timeframes that Lewison is setting himself to get his hands on those belts?  “The British and Commonwealth titles I want to be fighting for in four fights from now.  I want it to be that sort of level. Then within the next seven or eight fights I want European. This time around I'm not taking time off, I'm going full throttle. I'm in a good place and I may as well go and see where this path takes me.”

There is one name that Lewison is quick to mention in the interview and that is the American former world heavyweight titlist Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs.  Briggs has lined himself up a future showdown with Britain’s David Haye if he can come through a fight on the Haye undercard on May 21st.  “After April 30th I will try and get another fight in the next couple of months then after that I want the Commonwealth fight or the British. The fight I would love to have though is Shannon Briggs! I want the Cannon! Joshua laid the foundations and showed us how to beat the Yanks, I want to follow his blueprint and put the Cannon on his back.”
The ultimate aim for Lewison is to reach the world level and he sees it that since the long reign of Wladimir Klitschko was ended by Tyson Fury and the belts are no longer monopolised there are now avenues open to fighters that makes the heavyweight division all the more exciting.  “There's a lot of fights to be made. As a boxing fan, looking at the British scene at the moment it's proper thriving. The whole heavyweight scene is. Since Klitschko got derailed the whole division is thriving again. When Klitschko was champion there was only one angle, build up a route to get to him. Now he's out of the picture the titles are all in the air, there's many different routes to get to the titles at the top. I feel I can pick up one of them routes, get a title and go on to a unification. That's how I genuinely feel, it's not just a matter of me saying that because I think I can make some money out of it, I genuinely feel I can beat what's out there in my opinion from what I've seen.  I want to unify the division and beat people up.”

However, even before Lewison has stepped in a ring he has found himself being called out by other boxers on the domestic scene.  Another heavyweight who has taken some time out of the ring, Noureddine Meddoun, recently expressed his willingness to take on Lewison and in the process branded all British heavyweights as “cowards” as he seeks high profile fights to also move up the rankings.  So what did Lewison make of the heavyweight calling him out?
“I think it was all a gimmick. The fact is he was saying all this nonsense and you could see he doesn't believe it, he was saying it to get a bit of notoriety. Who is he to call me out? His fights he's had, he's fought nowhere near the level of competition I have. That to me is as one sided as a three legged donkey running in the Grand National” laughs Lewison.  “All he is doing is trying to get himself air time, he calls my name and I'll call back his name and he gets his name out there. I'm not opposed to taking free money. If his Manager or Promoter wants to make that fight by all means I will take it. That fight, I've won it already, I've only got to walk across the ring and get my arm raised by the referee. If they offer me something that is reasonable then I'll take a detour from the route I'm on and give him a spanking then get back on the path by all means. He's not my priority. He's had, what, four fights? He's not in the boxing ratings, me fighting him I'm doing him a favour. He can't offer me anything.”

I ask Lewison if it is true that Jim Evans in his role of Matchmaker for Lewison, turned down a fight with Meddoun as it was too risky?  “I don't know what Meddoun was smoking on his crack pipe when he imagined that, the man is delusional and must have been under the influence when he said that.”  So is it that Lewison sees that he doesn’t need the Meddoun fight, a man who is renowned for either stopping opponents or being stopped himself?  “Even with the absence I've had I have shown I'm past that level. I've fought Timo Hoffmann, a world rated fighter who took Vitali Klitshko in his prime 12 rounds. He had never been stopped before and I stopped him. That shows my pedigree and where I can fight at. Who has this guy fought? He fought Kevin Johnson and got stopped. Fact of the matter is he knows I'm the type of person that when someone says shit about me, I answer back.  As well as boxing being a sport it's also a business. Everything you do in boxing is strategic. I'll fight someone to get a placement in the ratings to get closer to that British or Commonwealth title fight. Me fighting him, I'm not doing myself any favours as he's nowhere in those ratings.  There would have to be some incentive outside of the ratings to do it. If they make me a viable offer then they can make it happen.”

He is resolute in his stance that any fight he takes now must be a meaningful one and one that will assist his ascension towards his goals.  Will a fight with Meddoun come off?  It seems unlikely.  Lewison has set himself tight timeframes to reach the upper echelons of the division.  He may be making up for lost time, but that might just be the catalyst that Lewison needs to fulfil the talents he has always shown.

Ian Lewison is currently seeking sponsors to assist with his boxing career.  He can be contacts on Facebook (Ian Lewison), Twitter (@IanLewison) and Instagram (ianlewison).  Ian is also a supporter of Butterfly Boxing, who can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and have been kind enough to give their photos for this article.