Lennox Lewis said he was shocked when Tyson Fury went on the front foot to take the fight to Deontay Wilder in last year’s rematch. 

Fury had told everybody what he would do before the fight, but Lewis admits that he was among those who thought he was lying. 

“I never believed Fury when he said he would go after Wilder in the second fight, I thought he would stick to the outside and box again,” Lewis said. “So if I was shocked then Wilder was definitely shocked, because no one was expecting that. 

“Deontay has never really had to back up before. He has to learn that the guy going forward has a better chance to land than the guy going backward - unless you have really been practicing fighting on the backfoot and you are used to it, it is going to be difficult to adapt that quickly. 

“If you have not practiced it then it is difficult. The rule is, if you are going backwards, is that you stop, plant your feet and throw your punch. But that takes a lot of practice and only a few people can do that - and I am in that bracket. 

“It really comes down to how much Deontay has been able to learn in this time and take in from his new trainer (Malik Scott). Will he be able to bring it into effect. 

“You can look at yourself and realise you don’t know everything and you need to go back to the drawing board and pick up what you don’t know. Losing festers but it can spark change and take you back to the drawing board and that can help you focus and know what you have to do. 

“In Deontay’s mind he has knocked out lots of people before and he only needs that one second. But that second has to come around, you have to wait for the right time and sometimes that second never comes. 

“That is why you have to give it to the boxer, because is the guy who is putting in all the work all the way through the fight.” 

Wilder served up plenty of excuses after his defeat, but Lewis says he will receive a swift wake-up call if he is in denial about what went wrong in last year’s defeat to Tyson Fury. 

Wilder bids to regain the WBC heavyweight title from Fury in Las Vegas this weekend. He lost the title in February last year when Fury stopped him in the seventh round, having dramatically changed his tactics from their first meeting 15 months earlier, which ended in a draw. 

“I have tried to get in the head of Deontay but he is in his own bubble,” Lewis said. “You can tell yourself you only lost because you got caught with a lucky shot and that can sometimes work for you. 

“But what changes that is a punch in the face - that wakes you up quick. A punch changes everything, all the things you practiced can suddenly stop working and you might even realize that all the things you were practicing were wrong, or you were just doing it wrong. 

“I expect an exciting fight and if Deontay hasn’t made the adjustments that he needed to, then it is all Tyson Fury.” 

Since switching trainers to Sugarhill Steward, Fury is also keeping alive the name of the Kronk gym in Detroit, set up by Steward’s late uncle Emanuel, who trained Lewis for his greatest nights. 

“It’s absolutely great to see the Kronk legacy carrying on,” Lewis said. “What I notice about the Kronk, they don’t try to change you as a boxer, they try to improve upon your skills. The tactics used by the Kronk godfather Emanuel Steward still live on today and I am happy for the Kronk and for Emanuel.” 

It was in Las Vegas that Lewis beat Evander Holyfield in 1999 to be recognized as undisputed world heavyweight champion. Fury sees a line through him to Lewis and the great heavyweight champions before him, but Lewis is not about to be drawn on how Fury would have done in his era. 

“Different eras bring out different fighters, do I wish I was in the Muhammad Ali era? Maybe, but God chose my era for me and that is where I had to make my mark. This is Fury’s era. 

“Heavyweights get bigger with each era too. I was the start of the big men and suddenly now we have all these tall and big heavyweights - they might even need a new super-heavyweight division now. 

“Tyson Fury would be right up there among the best heavyweights in history, but how high? I can’t tell because he hasn’t finished his fight yet.” 

BT Sport Box Office will show Fury v Wilder: The Trilogy exclusively live in the UK on Saturday 9th October. For more info go to www.bt.com/sportboxoffice