WE salute Lennox Lewis. His emphatic victory yesterday confirms him as the best heavyweight boxer of his generation, one of the best heavyweights of all time.

We understand his motivation for wanting to fight Mike Tyson. As long as Tyson stalked in the shadows, there were some who doubted whether Lewis was the true champion.

After his emphatic victory in Memphis no one can doubt the calibre of Lewis. He is a worthy champion.

But it remains a disgrace that Tyson was allowed in the ring.

A convicted rapist, convicted road rage attacker and someone who bit the ear of an opponent has no place in any professional sport.

While Tyson was knocked out yesterday, he still has plenty of reasons to celebrate.

The mere fact he was allowed in the ring was, for him, a victory of sorts. The fact that he behaved in such an unusually exemplary fashion and with good grace during and after the bout confirmed his rehabilitation in the myopic eyes of the authorities.

Tyson earned a guaranteed purse of 20million dollars yesterday, and will face several more big pay days in the future.

So too will the promoters and hangers-on who stand to earn fortunes by jumping on the Tyson bandwagon.

Lennox Lewis may be the champion of the world, but Tyson remains boxing's star attraction. Not because of his ability in the ring, because of his notoriety outside the ring.

That boxing finds it able to bring Tyson into the fold for the money he attracts is to the eternal shame of a sport that has been graced by the likes of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

While Lennox Lewis can now leave the sport to join these great names with his reputation and dignity intact, the same can not be said of either Tyson or the boxing authorities.

While yesterday's title decider may have ended the debate over who is the greatest heavyweight in the world, it will only add credence to calls for boxing to be outlawed.