THE overlord of Detroit's famous Kronk gymnasium, champion-maker Emanuel Steward, has snubbed Mike Tyson in order to stay with Britain's Lennox Lewis.

Steward, approached by Tyson's handlers to take over his training following the surprise loss of his WBA heavyweight title to Evander Holyfield, did not even pause to ask how much the Tyson camp was prepared to pay.

``It goes to prove Lewis has the best trainer in the world, because Tyson went after him,'' said Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, ``and it proves to everyone that Lennox is the best heavyweight in the world.

``If Lennox and Tyson were to meet, Emanuel has predicted there would be only one winner, and he wants to be in the winner's corner. Obviously, he would have been paid a lot of money to train Tyson, but it just goes to show how good his contract is with Lewis. The Lewis team is a loyal team. When you look back, it's one of the only championship teams that hasn't had a lot of changes in it.''

Steward switched camps to join Lewis after training Oliver McCall to take the WBC crown from Lewis at Wembley Arena in September 1994. Lewis previously had been trained by Puerto Rican Pepe Correa.

Since then, Steward has masterminded Lewis' wins over Lionel Butler in a WBC final eliminator, Justin Fortune, Tommy Morrison, and then Ray Mercer at Madison Square Garden in May.

Steward said: ``I suppose it is quite flattering to be asked by Mike to work with him. A lot of people believe that is the No.1 trainer's job in boxing, but I had to tell him and his people I already have the top job.

``I turned Mike down without even bothering to ask how much money they were prepared to pay me. I have always been convinced Lennox is the best heavyweight out there, and nothing could persuade me to turn my back on him.''

Tyson has been trained by long-time friend Jay Bright since his release from prison in March last year. In Tyson's fifth and last fight since then, Holyfield upset his world and highlighted the need for an adjustment in his personnel. Meanwhile, Lewis will move to Arizona, on Steward's advice, to prepare for his vacant WBC title rematch with McCall in Las Vegas on February 7.

q.JUSTIN Juuko had to work overtime to beat spirited challenger Gary Thornhill and retain his Commonwealth super-featherweight title last night.

The London-based Ugandan had the unbeaten Thornhill in trouble in the opening round at the Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre in London.

But Juuko had to wait until the eighth before sealing his success, when Thornhill, right eye swollen and shut, turned away in pain from a double left jab.

Earlier, Crawford Ashley halted Hull's Tony Booth in the first round. The British light-heavyweight champion from Leeds, displaying fast hands and impressive power, sent Booth to the canvas four times before referee Mark Green called the fight off seven seconds before the bell.

Ashley's European frustrations will come to an end in February, when he tackles Norway's Ole Klementsen for the vacant crown.

q.SUNDERLAND'S Billy Hardy is ready to tackle the last obstacle between himself and a lucrative world-title showdown with WBO featherweight champion Prince Naseem Hamed next year.

Hardy must defend his European featherweight crown against former WBO champion Steve Robinson to keep his world ambitions intact, and is confident that the Welshman will not spoil his plans when they meet on February 3.

``No disrespect to Robinson, who was world champion before Naz beat him, but I've always seen Steve as a journeyman fighter who was in the right place at the right time,'' said Hardy.

q.SCOTLAND have recruited the services of an Italian fighter to face the Welsh Federation team tonight at the Moodiesburn Hotel. Bainsford's Biagio Falcone will line up against Welsh light-middleweight prospect Patrick Killian in a Scotland vest. Team:

Light-fly: Andy Ferrins (New Cumnock), Alan French (Newarthill); fly: Barry Craig (Zetland); light: Willie Limond (Dennistoun), Colin Bain (Renfrewshire); light-welter: Mike Girvan (Dennistoun), Dave Bryce (Dennistoun), Chris Kelly (Newarthill); welter: George Telfer (Renfrewshire); light-middle: Robert Mackie (Aberdeen), Biagio Falcone (Zetland); middle: Dave Feeney (Newarthill).