Inside Anthony Joshua’s long-running feud with ‘clown’ Lennox Lewis and why the pair refuse to speak to each other

HEAVYWEIGHT giants Anthony Joshua and Lennox Lewis have been feuding for years.

Joshua, 33, is preparing to return to the ring on Saturday night when he takes on Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena.

Anthony Joshua flew out to see Lennox Lewis after winning gold at the Olympics

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Anthony Joshua flew out to see Lennox Lewis after winning gold at the OlympicsCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
He ended up snubbing Lewis' coaching offer when he turned professional

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He ended up snubbing Lewis’ coaching offer when he turned professionalcredit: Getty

The Olympic gold medallist is attempting to bounce back from successive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

But irrespective of the outcome against Franklin, one man AJ is unlikely to impress British legend Lewis.

The 57-year-old is widely regarded as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.

Lewis beat the likes of Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno and Vitali Kitschko during his sensational reign at the top of the division in the 1990s and early 2000s.

And he could have remained in the sport as a coach following Joshua’s gold medal win at London 2012.

AJ flew to Jamaica to meet Lewis as he prepared to turn professional the following year.

But things did not work out, with Lewis telling the Undefeated Podcast: “We talked about my career and he loved listening to the stories and all the different things that I went through.

“I said, ‘I’d love to help you,’ I don’t want to be his promoter, I’m not a promoter, but there’s things I can teach him.

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Joshua and Lewis meeting in 2013

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Joshua and Lewis meeting in 2013Credit: Instagram / @anthonyjoshua

“He phoned me, he said, ‘I really want you to help me.’ I said, ‘OK, good.’

“Then I didn’t hear from him again. I heard that he picked some other people to help him, he was doing his professional career and that was it.”

Joshua snubbed Lewis for Tony Sims as he embarked on his pro career with the Essex-based coach.

Sims would help AJ claim his first world title, before he was replaced by Rob McCracken in 2016.

And in 2017, after Joshua’s win over Wladimir Klitschko, Lewis took his first public swipe at his fellow countryman.

He said: “Me and Evander Holyfield were actually there [at Wembley] for German TV when he boxed Klitschko.

“We were outside the dressing room [after the fight]. We wanted to big him up as first champion after the Olympics. Now he’s beat the big man, we’re there to congratulate him.

“Security brushed us out of the way and brushed him in there. He was like, ‘Len–’ and gone. They pushed him in.

“I said, ‘Okay, cool. They don’t want me around. They don’t want me close to him.’ the promoter, [Eddie Hearn] definitely the promoter, no doubt about that.

“You allow your promoter to do that to the last undisputed, to me and Holyfield, and we’re there to big him up.

“You’ve shown me your position, I’m not gonna be running after a person if I know their position.”

He also criticized Joshua’s inability to make a fight with then WBC champion Deontay Wilder, saying to Boxing Scene: “He wants to go around making money.

Joshua was with coach Tony Sims, far right, for the first 17 pro fights of his career

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Joshua was with coach Tony Sims, far right, for the first 17 pro fights of his careerCredit: Action Images – Reuters

“I think that’s going to be a downfall for him. He has to stay with it, he can’t be in the background.

“If he wants to be a champion, he has to act like a champion.”

Since then, Joshua has suffered three professional losses – to Andy Ruiz and Usyk twice.

And it was after the defeat of Ruiz when his rivalry with Lewis bubbled to the surface once more.

Speaking about Joshua, Lewis suggested he should change trainer again, tweeting: “Too many things went wrong in that fight to say he was properly prepared for Ruiz or the situation he found himself in.

“AJ found himself asking questions with no answers. They couldn’t make the adjustments…

“I say you can’t go to university with your third-grade teacher.

“They won’t have the answers you need at that level. You need a professor by then.”

Joshua labeled Lewis a clown in a 2019 interview

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Joshua labeled Lewis a clown in a 2019 interviewCredit: Sky Sports via Twitter

This time Joshua responded, telling Sky Sports: “Lennox is a clown. I don’t respect Lennox. Me and Lennox are not the same.

“My legacy is to sit back and enjoy the younger generation coming up, and not to be involved.

“Just to appreciate what it takes to get there. Lennox isn’t like that. Me and Lennox are cut from a different cloth.”

Lewis did not take these comments lying down, replying on social media by pointing out that he became undisputed champion – something Joshua is still yet to achieve.

He said: “Wow! He’s right! We ARE cut from a different cloth.

“Undisputed wasn’t something I ‘worried’ about. It was something I went after until it was accomplished!

“Disappointed in AJ’s words but I understand that this ‘jealousy’ narrative was only fabricated AFTER I criticized them for Wilder negotiations. All of a sudden I’m a hater.

“Ask who benefits from such a simple-minded narrative? Not AJ. Not me.”

Not one to back down, Joshua posted his own message on Instagram.

He said: “Always say how it is. A clown is a clown. He can wipe his make-up off, but his heart remains the same.

“No squares in my circle, cuz. G s*** only.”

Lewis commented that his “door remains open” to Joshua despite the beef, but that “disrespect is not the answer to his frustrations”.

After a month of quiet, Joshua then reflected on the back and forth with Lewis.

He said: “Lewis has never reached out… The only times I’ve ever heard of Lewis making contact is via the internet.

“Who does take time to call me, and is not so much involved in the internet stuff, is Wladimir Klitschko.

“Calls me, advises me. He’s not doing it for the clout. He just calls me man-to-man.

“I just feel like, when it comes to me, it’s kind of different, ‘Anthony’s dodging, Anthony Joshua’s not this, he needs to do that.’

“Why are you always attacking me, rather than reaching out like Klitschko and giving a young man advice when I need it?

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“I’m not two-faced. You poke me, you poke me, sooner or later you’ll hear what I have to say about you.”

Lewis again replied that Joshua was “most definitely wrong” and the pair have avoided speaking about each other over the last four years.

Lewis was the last undisputed heavyweight champion

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Lewis was the last undisputed heavyweight championcredit: Getty

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