It was a forgotten name from the glorious late 60’s and early 70’s. His name is Hedgemon Lewis. Hedgemon is now just a footnote in welterweight championship history. New York State Athletic Commission once recognized him as World Champion after he whipped favorite son Billy Backus a few times. The real champion of that era was the Hall Of Fame great Jose ” Mantequilla ” Napoles. Lewis twice met Napoles for world honors losing the first fight on a very close verdict. In the return match Hedge was halted in nine rounds.
Lewis would later challenge the man who beat Napoles, John H. Stracey and again fail to capture crown. Lewis also had a series of exciting bouts with the popular Ernie “Red” Lopez and he held another International Boxing Hall Of Fame inductee Carlos Palomino to a draw. Hedgemon Lewis WAS Sugar Ray Leonard before there was a Sugar Ray Leonard. Lewis had grace, style and flash. What Hedge didn’t have was Ray’s strength and power. Hedge’s whiskers were not the best but he was skillful in avoiding punches. Ray Leonard had nothing on Lewis when it came to pure boxing ability.
When I think about Hedgemon Lewis, I just think “class act”. There is no doubt in my mind with the fragmented titles we have today plus the twelve round championship distance that Lewis would not have copped a crown. When he was on his game you could not get to him until the seventh or eighth round. This boxer was MADE for the twelve round distances because he had the heart, style and endurance to go fifteen. In a twelve rounder he would build up such an insurmountable lead that you would have to knock him out. No easy task. In his prime the only ones to really compete with him were the great Napoles and the vastly under rated Ernie Lopez.
So here’s a hat off to Hedgemon Lewis. It was a pleasure to watch him fight.