WBC, Lewis dumped on by Bowe Title belt trashed by world champ

December 15, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

The breach between heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, of Fort Washington, Md., and principal title challenger Lennox Lewis broadened yesterday when Bowe, in a symbolic gesture, discarded his World Boxing Council championship belt in a trash bin while attending a sports award banquet in London, where Lewis resides.

"They're getting along these days about as well as Prince Charles and Lady Di," said Kathy Duva, spokeswoman for Dan Duva, president of Main Events Inc., which holds promotional rights to Bowe and Lewis.

Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, reiterated his position that he would not follow orders from WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who has threatened to strip Bowe if he did not make Lewis the opponent in his first title defense.

Bowe and Lewis were the survivors of boxing's version of the NCAA Final Four. Bowe claimed the undisputed title last month by defeating Evander Holyfield in a classic, 12-round brawl in Las Vegas. Lewis stopped Razor Ruddock in two rounds in London on Oct. 31.

But Newman, on the night of Bowe's victory over Holyfield, said it would be unsound financially for Bowe to make Lewis his next opponent.

"There is now little likelihood of us fighting Lewis at all in 1993," Newman said yesterday. "Riddick will never engage in a title for this [WBC] belt. It's a trashy, soiled, tainted belt."

There has been bad blood between Lewis and Bowe since 1988, when the Englishman stopped Bowe in the Olympic super-heavyweight gold-medal match in Seoul, Korea.

Sulaiman said yesterday he will name Lewis the WBC's new champion and open bidding for a mandatory title defense next spring against Tony Tucker, the group's leading contender. Lewis, by default, would become Britain's first heavyweight king since Bob Fitzsimmons reigned in 1897.

Newman and Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, held talks on both sides of the Atlantic in recent weeks to try to resolve the matter.

Maloney was given two options by Newman: fight Bowe next for $3 million or wait until next fall for a $9 million purse. After calling the $3 million offer "insulting," Maloney had a change of heart.

But Newman informed him he was too late, noting that he already had signed a two-fight package with Home Box Office and TVKO worth a reported $14 million for Bowe to defend his title.

The first match is scheduled Feb. 6 on HBO, with Bowe's short list of challengers including Alex Garcia, Alex Stewart, Michael Dokes, Tommy Morrison and Francesco Damiani. Talks with former champion George Foreman failed to materialize.

Duva questioned the wisdom of Bowe's abandoning his WBC belt.

"When we were promoting Holyfield, having Evander retain the three principal belts -- WBC, WBA and IBF -- was a primary concern of ours. You're in a much stronger bargaining position as undisputed champion than having a fragmented title."

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