LOS ANGELES -- Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is considering retirement and has decided against fighting again this year, meaning a discussed rematch against Vitali Klitschko in December won't take place.
"Lennox has been very public in his comments that he was seriously considering retirement, that he just wasn't sure he wants to go forward,'' Lewis' attorney, Judd Burstein, said Monday from his home in Westport, Conn. "He is still considering whether he wants to keep fighting.
"It's not a question of whether Lennox can or cannot be ready this year. Of course he can be ready. He chooses not to fight this year while he's considering whether or not he's ever going to fight again.''
Klitschko was upset upon hearing the news.
"Honestly, it seems to me that Lennox is looking for an easy exit,'' Klitschko said in Hamburg, Germany. "Why else would he wait until I was cleared to fight to announce that he did not want to fight? He is looking for an easy way out.
"I did not expect to hear anything like this. Lewis is a great champion, but I have the feeling he realizes how tough the fight against me really was and how difficult the rematch will be. I am ready to fight Lennox Lewis right now.''
Lewis retained his WBC and IBO heavyweight titles in the sixth round June 21 at Staples Center when his fight against Klitschko was stopped because of bloody cuts around the challenger's left eye.
Klitschko, who led 58-56 on all three scorecards when the 12-round bout was stopped, protested vehemently that he could keep fighting.
The two sides talked about Lewis taking on the Ukrainian again Dec. 6, possibly in Madison Square Garden.
"I'm surprised. After all, he demanded an examination from a specialist that my cut has healed. Apparently he's got more respect for me than he indicated,'' Klitschko said. "I'm ready and I think it is very sad.''
Lewis said on a conference call July 2 that he definitely wanted a rematch with Klitschko, who was cleared to return to the ring three weeks later by Dr. Volker Steinkraus in Hamburg.
But if he's going to fight Lewis again, it won't be until 2004 at the earliest.
"Lennox made a determination that under all circumstances, he would not be fighting again this year,'' Burstein said. "He concluded that it would not be fair to HBO, potential sites, Vitali Klitschko and most importantly the sport of boxing to keep everybody wondering about a December fight when he had already made this decision.
"From a business perspective, much of the boxing world was on hold in terms of the fall schedule until Lennox made his decisions. He just did not think it was fair to keep everyone in limbo.''
The 37-year-old Lewis said last week in London that he was seriously considering retirement.
"I speak about what's happened, not about what will be,'' Burstein said regarding that possibility.