Lewis' manager hotly disputes report of a $10 million offer to fight Bowe Newman is called 'liar and a cheat'

February 10, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Rock Newman is not to be trusted.

That was the blunt message World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis of England and his manager, Frank Maloney, delivered at a news conference yesterday before heading to New York to begin negotiations with the manager of Riddick Bowe, who holds the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles.

Newman is trying to reach an agreement to match Bowe and Lewis in Las Vegas, June 18.

But Lewis and Maloney questioned Newman's motives in renewing contract talks after he insisted a bout was out of the question unless Lewis renounced his WBC title.

Lewis was anointed the champion by WBC president Jose Sulaiman after Bowe, who won the undisputed title from Evander Holyfield in November, reneged on an agreement to make Lewis his first title defense.

"Frankly, I think it's just another smoke screen by Rock," said Maloney. "He and Bowe are trying to regain some credibility after that one-round fiasco with Michael Dokes.

"If you want to hold serious negotiations, you don't call the press first before sitting down with the other fighter's manager," Maloney added.

"He's been talking a lot of garbage. Hopefully, this time he'll get serious. In either case, I'm flying back to London tomorrow [today]. We'll just turn all our attention to finalizing our proposed title fight [May 8] with Tony Tucker."

Lewis was equally skeptical that Bowe, whom he thrashed to win the gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, was really that eager for a rematch.

"Bowe doesn't really want to face me," said Lewis, England's first heavyweight champion this century. "But now he needs me more than I need him to help make the fans forget about Dokes, a fight that shouldn't have been sanctioned."

Lewis suggested that Newman has brainwashed Bowe.

"Riddick's real trouble is that he thinks on one side of his brain and Rock on the other," said Lewis. "Rock reminds me of one of those World Wrestling Federation managers. He doesn't deal with reality.

"He keeps talking about my WBC belt. I believe I earned that by beating Razor Ruddock. But that's just politics. It really shouldn't matter what color boots, trunks, robe or title belt I'm wearing.

"Frankly, I don't feel comfortable sharing a championship with Bowe," said Lewis. "Like the Olympics, there should be only one champion. But they want to play politics. I say, let's get on with it."

But as anyone familiar with pro boxing's subplots knows, nothing is that easy. Duva and rival promoter Don King will have something to say about the Bowe-Lewis negotiations.

King won the bidding rights to the Lewis-Tucker fight with a $12.160 million purse bid. Customarily, the purses are split 80-20 in favor of the champion, which would give Lewis a $9.7 million guarantee.

"He [King] is trying to change the rules," said Duva. "He wants to make the split 75-25, but we're not going to take $600,000 out of Lennox's pocket. King's in a hole for over $12 million and needs Lewis' cooperation. He's got 90 days to work things out or there will be no fight."

Added Maloney: "King will make us a fair proposition, or he won't see Lewis again."

But as King's matchmaker, Al Braverman, noted: "The only way Lewis gets out of fighting Tucker is by trashing his WBC belt, the same as Bowe did."

King, who controls Tucker, has a strong ally in Sulaiman, who likely would waste little time in stripping Lewis for failing to fight the WBC's No. 1 contender.

Meanwhile, Maloney is using the $9.7 million figure to strengthen his bargaining position with Newman, saying, "It is certainly unlikely that we would take less to fight Bowe."

Maloney summarily rejected three previous offers from Newman.

"He started out by making a $3 million offer that was designed to be refused," Maloney said. "Then Rock offered us an 'interim' fight for $2.5 million with a promise that we'd get $9 million to fight Bowe in the fall. And the last offer was a 75-25 split in favor of Bowe. He'll have to be a lot more charitable this time."

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