Lennox Lewis: Klitschko needs WBC belt to be a true champ

Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis says current champ Wladimir Klitschko, who faces Tyson Fury next Saturday, lacks the last final belt to be considered his legitimate successor.

Wladimir Klitschko, of Ukraine, punches American boxer Bryant Jennings.   -  AP

Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis says current champ Wladimir Klitschko, who faces Tyson Fury next Saturday, lacks the last final belt to be considered his legitimate successor.

Klitschko, 39, will defend his IBF, WBA and IBO titles against Britain's Fury, 27, in Duesseldorf next Saturday having last tasted defeat more than a decade ago. But Lewis says the Ukrainian giant needs to match his feat of adding the WBC title to consider himself a true champion across the divisions.

"For that, he needs to have every championship belt. I had them all," Lewis told German daily Die Welt on Sunday.

Lewis retired from boxing in 2004, but his pointed at the win over Evander Holyfield in 1999 which gave him all four major belts and said he wanted to see Klitschko bow out of professional boxing by achieving the same sweep of all four titles.

"In addition to the IBF and WBA belts you need to have the WBC belt, that is the most important," said Lewis. "No matter what Wladimir has to arrange, he still has to get this one belt. If he does, he should say goodbye to boxing. It would be the perfect end to a glittering career."

USA boxer Deontay Wilder, 30, is the current WBC champion and Lewis says time is running out for Klitschko, who turns 40 next April.

"He will reach the point where he can no longer punish himself in training like a 20 or 30-year-old," said Lewis. You reach the stage when you can't just jump out bed and flog yourself. Also the risk of injury increases. The biological clock is ticking and it happens to be the toughest rival."

The bout in Duesseldorf promises to be the battle of the giants with Fury at six foot nine inches (2.06m) enjoying a height advantage over the six foot, five inches (1.98m) Klitschko.

But Lewis expects the champion to win comfortably to add to his record of 52 knockouts in 64 wins, while his last defeat of his three defeats was back in 2004. Fury has won all of his 24 fights to date with 18 knockouts, but his world title challenge will be a step up.

"He (Klitschko) must have patience," said Lewis. "At some point, the moment will arise where you can use the right."