This is Lewis' world (Just try to stay awake)

Friday, May 17, 2002

SCOTRUN, Pa. -- Welcome, boys and girls, to Lennox Lewis's Fight Kamp! And, yes, we spell it just like that!

Because this is Caesars Brookdale resort, in the heart of the Poconos, a cheery, happy, family place of bad spelling and infinite exclamation points!

Take some actual excerpts from the daily printed schedule, shall we?

"3 p.m. bingo --It's the MOST popular game on the Mountain, folks! Here's your chance to win some $$ or prizes! A game the whole family can enjoy! Join GIOVANNI in the Rolls Royce Lounge!

"4 p.m. nap time --A favorite activity with the parents! Take a break from all the day's events, get ready for dinner, or rest up for tonight's festitivities! Or enjoy one of Brookdale's many leisure activities, like archery!"

That's right, archery. You were expecting the rope-a-dope? Lewis invited the media to join him in this world of fun Tuesday, holding court for an hour or so in the gym next to the indoor miniature golf course.

The interview wasn't listed on the resort schedule but, you know, Lewis might not have minded.

He was chatty. He was jolly.

When Mike Tyson met with the media he threatened to stomp on testicles. When Lewis met with the media he served a white sheet cake with light blue flowers.

"Lennox likes to do everything proper," said Emanuel Steward, his trainer. "He's kind of like a big kid up here."

So the theme of the fight lives another day. Good vs. Evil. The fighter vs. the biter. The man who likes to eat children vs. the man who likes to behave like them.

And if that seems too simplistic, too easy, it's also hard to avoid after you spend some time with the two men.

"Lennox just happens to be a very nice person,"said Leigh Steinberg.

OK, Steinberg is the guy's agent. What's he going to say? But Lewis sure seemed hospitable.

He wore a blue shirt with the word "Memphis" on the front.

He laughed. He joked. He criticized Tyson for failing to be a proper role model.

Not only didn't Lewis volunteer any four-letter words, he couldn't be goaded into one.

Seriously. At one point someone asked about the time Lewis and Tyson had an unfriendly exchange when the two met in Las Vegas.

"He said a derogatory word," Lewis said.

"What was it?"

"No, you don't want me to say it out loud."

"Sure we do!"

"He referred to . . . Nah, I'm not saying it."

Well, then. The worst anyone can say about Lewis is he can be uncooperative.

Oh, and dull. There's that too.

For all the admiration of Lewis, nobody talks much about him.

Even at this press conference roughly half the questions for Lewis were about Tyson.

Why does Tyson say the things he says? What do you remember of Tyson from when you were both amateurs? How are you going to handle Tyson? Are you sure it was Tyson who bit you?

"When someone is biting your leg you look down and you want to see who is biting your leg," Lewis said. "You don't forget the head.

"I said, OK, it's Mike Tyson."

Lewis laughed at this. But he understands too. He understands all the attention Tyson generates.

That's why the fight is so important for Lewis, why he knows that even after two decades of boxing his career is likely going to be defined by what happens on June 8 at The Pyramid.

Evil is interesting. Good is dull. Good becomes more interesting when it vanquishes evil.

So Lewis trains away, surrounded by friends, family and kids in paddleboats, preparing to chase the bad guy out of the sport that has been so kind to him.

It should be fun! It should be thrilling!

Better, even, than bingo.

Geoff Calkins is a columnist for the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial-Appeal.

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