“I hired a nutritionist to come down and stay with me for a month and a half,” Lewis said with a laugh, acknowledging the decision as a major shift from previous camps and one that is sure to catch some people off guard.
While all the talk of changes is accompanied by his deep baritone chuckle, the fact is that these are all major strides for the popular heavyweight, who has made it this far with a jacked up knee, a balky back and training camps crafted around his limitations.
“It’s a new lease on life,” admitted Lewis. “Now if I lose these fights, it’s only going to be because these guys are way better than me; it’s not going to be that I didn’t train hard enough or I wasn’t 100 percent.”
And the first test of that comes on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, where he’ll stand across the cage from Ivanov, who enters on a two-fight winning streak.
“I found out about him when I was watching footage on Junior,” Lewis said of the Bulgarian heavyweight, who dropped his promotional debut to the former champion in July 2018, but has since rebounded with decision wins over Ben Rothwell and Tai Tuivasa.
“Watching the fights that I watched, he gets hit a lot and I believe it’s not going to take too many hits if he wants to fight the same way,” he added, breaking down Ivanov’s “take one to land one and get inside” approach. “I believe he’s going to want to come in and pressure me, try to get the clinch and take me down, but I really believe that I can get him out of there.”
It’s been a long, challenging year between trips to New York for Lewis, but this time, he’s heading into battle healthy and fully prepared, and if a compromised version of “The Black Beast” can post nine wins in 10 starts before falling to a pair of UFC champions, just imagine what he might be capable of now.