A three-time heavyweight champion and the dominant heavyweight of his era, 38-year-old Lennox Lewis is retiring on his timetable, without any slur in his speech or drastic decline in his skills.
So the first question, as it would be with any retiring fighter who apparently carries a full load of brain cells is: Is this permanent?
In a sport where 55-year-old George Foreman, a two-time heavyweight champion, is again threatening to come back, is it inevitable Lewis, too, will someday do the same?
"Hopefully, what you'll see someday is the Lennox Lewis grill," said Lewis, referring to the cooking appliance Foreman endorsed after boxing, resulting in his second fortune.
Seemingly relaxed and content on a trip to Los Angeles a week after announcing he was ending his 14-year ring career, Lewis is believable when he stays he won't lace the gloves again.
Boxing never seemed to be an obsession with Lewis, who was as comfortable behind a chess board as he was in front of the heavy bag.
Lewis insisted the retirement decision was not made because of his narrow escape from defeat against Vitali Klitschko in their fight last June at Staples Center. Klitschko was ahead on all three judges' scorecards after six rounds when the fight was stopped because of a deep cut on Klitschko's left eyelid.
Instead, Lewis said, he has been trying to get out of the ring for a long time, but there always seemed to be a reason to stay. He spent the early part of his career fighting for recognition, unable to get fights against the big names of that period, like Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield. Lewis finally faced Holyfield in 1999, fought him to a controversial draw, then won the rematch.
"But I couldn't retire without facing Tyson," Lewis said. "He eluded me for a long time. He always wanted to go after somebody easier than me. If I had retired before facing him, people would have said, 'Well, you never fought Mike Tyson.' "
People could say he never fought the real Tyson, since Lewis faced him only a year and a half ago, long after Tyson had passed his prime. But Lewis says his eighth-round knockout victory gave him closure on his career.
Still, he signed to fight Kirk Johnson on the Staples Center card, "to see if I was still hungry to go on."
When Johnson was injured in training camp, Klitschko stepped in. And when Lewis-Klitschko was stopped prematurely because of the cut, there was a public clamor for a rematch. But, said Lewis, he decided enough was enough.
"I didn't really have anything to prove," Lewis said.
"Why do I have to keep proving myself? That's the drug of this sport that lures you back. There's always somebody else to beat, always a challenge.
"Instead, I have gotten out and I couldn't have written a better script for doing it. I go out as heavyweight champion, I wrote my own rules, did it my way and didn't succumb to other influences in the sport."
Lewis retires with a 41-2-1 record with 32 knockouts. If not for two punches, knockout blows by Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, Lewis could have gone undefeated. Is that frustrating for Lewis, who seemed clearly superior to those opponents?
"Those punches actually helped me in my career," Lewis said. "When I was knocked out by McCall, it made me realize who were the people I could depend on. Some of the people around me ran for the hills when I lost. As for the loss to Rahman, that rekindled my passion for the sport. Until then, the flame in me for boxing was dimming."
So what now?
"I am going to be involved in sports management," Lewis said. "There are a whole lot of athletes coming into money and I don't want to see them taken advantage of by some people out there. I want to see them achieve their goals."
Would he be interested in taking on as a client his old foe, Tyson, who has declared bankruptcy, but insists he will return to the ring in late spring?
"Yeah," said Lewis, "he's definitely marketable, but we'd have to put him on a budget."