Lennox Lewis has spoken of his devastation at the death of long-time trainer Emanuel Steward.
Lewis is one of many top fighters to have had his career shaped by Steward, whose passing was confirmed by his sister on Thursday night. He was 68 and had recently undergone surgery for a stomach illness.
"I'm completely devastated by the passing of my long-time friend, mentor and trainer Emanuel "Manny" Steward," Lewis wrote on his official website. "Manny has helped me get through some of the biggest fights in my career and I only regret that I couldn't return the favour and see him through his biggest fight."
He continued: "We've maintained a close relationship and the last time we spoke he seemed his usual upbeat self so it was very disturbing to hear about his illness and rapid decline.
"It is with a heavy heart that realisation of what I hoped were just rumours are now in fact true.
"Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, HE was the best and I'm grateful, privileged and honoured to be counted among his many historic successes."
Steward trained more than 40 world champions during his illustrious career, with Lewis being one of them. He went to Steward's Kronk Gym in Detroit after losing his WBC heavyweight title to Oliver McCall in 1994, reclaimed his title in 1997 and went on to have a spell as the undisputed champion before retiring in 2004.
"This has been a very tragic year for the boxing world, but today we've truly lost one of its crown jewels," Lewis added.
"Manny was giving, selfless, compassionate and stern. He always gave back to the community and never forgot where he came from. He was an institution unto himself and I'm proud to have had him in my corner for so many years.
"I'm extremely grateful for the time that I was given with him and he will be severely missed by all who knew and loved him. I'll miss his smile, his frank no-holds-barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. My prayers and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time."