George Foreman, who became odd man out in the Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship bout negotiations, has filed a $100 million breach-of-contract suit against Holyfield, the champion's promoter, Dan Duva, and his manager, Shelly Finkel.
The former heavyweight champion also is seeking an injunction to stop the scheduled Nov. 8 title match at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for today in Houston.
Leading the attack against Holyfield, the undisputed champion, is promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc. Arum says he has a contract signed by Duva on Holyfield's personal stationery, offering Foreman a rematch, Nov. 8, at the same terms he had received for extending Holyfield to the 12-round limit in Atlantic City, N.J., on April 19.
"They defrauded us," Arum said. "All the contract terms were spelled out in this letter that was faxed on July 1 from Holyfield's office in Atlanta to Foreman's office in Houston."
Arum said the July 1 letter from Duva included four major points of agreement:
* Foreman would receive a $12.5 million guarantee.
* He would get 50 percent of any site fee in excess of $7 million (Caesars Palace agreed to pay $8 million to stage the fight).
* The fight would be canceled if Foreman were to lose a fight against unranked Boone Pultz on HBO, Sept. 7.
* All other contract terms would be similar to the agreement for the April 19 fight.
Arum said he and Foreman's adviser, Ron Weathers, flew to New York on July 9 to complete the deal.
"We were in the offices of Time-Warner, and several of their officers witnessed us shaking hands on the contract with Duva and Finkel," said Arum. "At the same time, we called [Caesars Palace president] Henry Gluck and [sports director] Rich Rose to close the site deal. Everyone was in agreement."
The following day, Arum said, he was shocked to learn that Duva and Finkel had agreed that Holyfield would defend his title against Tyson at Caesars Palace on the same date.
Tyson's promoter, Don King, fearful that the former champion might end their boxing relationship as a result of a Holyfield-Foreman rematch, finally agreed to accept a $15 million guarantee for Tyson. Holyfield will get $30 million.
Finkel said last week that the terms of the Holyfield-Tyson agreement call for Foreman to fight the winner. But King said this was a fabrication.
Arum said the $100 million suit was based on "treble damages."
He said: "We passed up a $20 million offer for George to fight Tyson. We would have shared in the site fee and pay-per-view promotion. We also have to figure on lost revenue if George had whipped Holyfield. But, to be honest, we'd settle for $50 million."
As Weathers told the New York Post this week: "George wants to fight, not sue people. We laughed, then cried when we found out about Holyfield-Tyson. You've got to protect yourself more outside the ring than in it. It's a tough business, and George is just protecting himself now."
Neither Duva nor Finkel was available for comment yesterday. Foreman, however, drew little sympathy from King or his advisers.
"George tried to be a 'cutie-pie' and got outfoxed," said King's matchmaker, Al Braverman.
"We had offered him $20 million to fight Tyson and he turned it down. That was his biggest boo-boo. Plus he was guaranteed $10 million for two other fights on HBO this year. Actually, I think George was afraid of getting his butt kicked by Tyson."