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It’s a process that began following his loss to Dos Santos, when Lewis opted to finally have surgery to repair the mangled knee ligaments he’d been fighting with for several years. Moving around the cage on a bad knee contributed to the chronic back issues that plagued him during that time as well, and with both cleared up, the veteran was looking forward to finally operating at 100 percent for the first time in his career.

But following his last victory over Ilir Latifi, Lewis let it be known that he was dealing with additional health issues, though he refused to go into detail about what was ailing him.

He described the situation as “life and death” and noted that he dealt with a flare up of the mysterious condition during his bout with the Swedish veteran at home in Houston in February, though now it’s under control and not an issue that will affect his fighting career.

“I still can’t talk about it, but that’s one of the reasons why I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible and trying to get my weight lower — my walking around weight — and I have, and I’ve been feeling better,” Lewis said when asked about the ailment. “I haven’t had any issues with it lately.

“I kind of figured the reason it was happening was because usually big guys like myself, after I weigh in, I get up to around 290 (pounds) and that’s not good on my body,” he added. “That’s one of the reasons I felt like it was affecting me and why I was having those issues.”

Watching the video of him hitting mitts in his garage with Kru Bob Perez a couple weeks back, Lewis looks noticeably thinner and far more fluid on his feet than in prior bouts, which is a scary proposition for Oleinik and anyone else in the heavyweight division who might have to share the Octagon with the slimmed-down powerhouse in the future.

“I told y’all — I’ve just been comfortable,” he said with a cackle. “I ain’t been lying when I told y’all my knees was bothering me, my back was bothering me; all those things bother me whenever I was fighting. I’m more comfortable now.

“We don’t throw kicks because my coach thinks it’s going to hurt my back in training and that’s just going to slow us down,” Lewis said, explaining some of the limitations he’s dealt with in the past because of his various health challenges. “We don’t even practice kicks — we just focus on cardio and technique and some type of game plan we’re going to use.”


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