Lewis first in the ring to challenge Holyfield WBC's champion wants early '94 bout BOXING

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

Unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Lennox Lewis of England became the first heavyweight to toss his hat (and gloves) into the ring as a challenge to Evander Holyfield, who regained the other two-thirds of the heavyweight crown Saturday from Riddick Bowe.

Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, said he plans to begin immediate negotiations with Dan Duva, president of Top Rank, who has promotional ties to Holyfield and Lewis.

"Short of putting a gun to his [Duva's] head, we will do anything possible to make this fight happen by March or April of next year," said Maloney, who was joined by Lewis in a news conference yesterday.

Maloney said Holyfield and Bowe had agreed contractually that the winner of their first fight in November 1992 would meet the winner of Lewis' bout with Razor Ruddock in England.

Bowe and Lewis won those matches, but Maloney could not reach an agreement with Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, and the fighters went separate ways.

"We couldn't deal with Newman," Maloney said. "But let's settle this once and for all."

Maloney, who said he plans to meet with Duva before Christmas, will try to convince Duva and Holyfield that fighting Lewis would prove more lucrative than a third match with Bowe. In addition, it also would unify the heavyweight crown.

"By March, we will have pay-per-view in England, and most of Europe could be wired by April," Maloney said. "A Holyfield-Lewis match could break all records."

The proposed fight probably would take place in Las Vegas, and Maloney envisions three major casinos -- The Mirage, Caesars Palace and MGM -- bidding to serve as host.

Reminded that Lewis had contracted to open the new MGM on March 5 against Tommy Morrison before Michael Bentt upset Morrison last month, Maloney said: "That was strictly for the Morrison fight, but we will still talk to MGM."

Lewis became the WBC champion by default last year after Bowe beat Holyfield, then undisputed heavyweight king, and Bowe discarded his belt as a protest against WBC president Jose Sulaiman's demands to make Lewis his next title opponent.

By winning the rematch, Holyfield said he considered himself the owner of all three belts -- the WBC, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation. "I lost all three, so I figure I won all of them back by beating Bowe," he said.

Said Lewis: "That's fine, but right now I have the belt in my possession, and he's got to whip me to get it.

"Right now, I'm the only undefeated [24-0] heavyweight champion. Holyfield is a great competitor and a man with fierce pride. I don't think he would want to retire and have people say, 'But you never fought Lennox Lewis.' "

Holyfield told his manager, Shelly Finkel, that he will need several weeks to consider his options, including retirement. He has earned more than $100 million in ring purses. If he decides to continue fighting, the IBF would bring pressure on Holyfield to fulfill his mandatory defense against top-ranked Michael Moorer.

If Holyfield opts for a third fight with Bowe, Maloney said Lewis probably would defend his crown in March against either Bentt or undefeated Jorge Luis Gonzalez, a Cuban expatriate who lives in Miami.

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