Lewis becoming focus of cloudy title picture He could challenge Bruno for WBC title

November 05, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- Before stepping in the ring at Caesars Palace to fight Riddick Bowe a third time last night, Evander Holyfield said, "Don't nobody want to fight Bowe. Don't nobody want to fight me. That's why we keep fighting each other, belt or no belt."

The one exception could be Lennox Lewis, who has emerged as the wild card in the heavyweight championship picture. But the legal courts could decide whether the Englishman will be challenging countryman Frank Bruno, the World Boxing Council champion, or the winner of Bowe-Holyfield III.

Lewis, who briefly wore the WBC crown before being upset by Oliver McCall last year, is viewed as the most attractive opponent by the management of Bowe, owner of the dubious World Boxing Organization crown. Lewis whipped Bowe in the 1988 Olympic Games, and there is little love lost between the two.

But, for the present, Lewis is heading in a different direction. He ,, was seeking a court injunction against a scheduled March 16 match between Bruno and Mike Tyson. His lawyers argued in England's high court Thursday that he was the WBC's mandatory challenger after beating Lionel Butler in an elimination match.

The British High Court tossed out the case, suggesting Lewis should appeal in Dallas under the latest WBC bylaws.

It was hardly a coincidence that the WBC changed its rules concerning mediation of disputes only days before the London court date.

British boxing sources said Lewis' financial backer, Panos Eliades, would decide in the next week whether the court case was worth pursuing in the United States.

FTC Eliades said the failure of the British court to support Lewis was a "shame for Lennox and a shame for boxing."

Meanwhile, Seth Abraham, president of HBO, said he would be interested in a Lewis-Bruno fight and discussed the matter at an October meeting in London with Bruno, getting a handshake on a possible future deal.

Abraham prefers seeing Lewis battle Bowe since Lewis has already defeated Bruno. But Abraham realizes Lewis would like to win back a piece of the fragmented heavyweight title to gain a better bargaining position over ring purses.

In terms of a mega-bucks fight, nothing could match a showdown between Bowe and Tyson.

But this dream match won't happen soon.

Tyson, the former heavyweight champion who made his ring comeback in August with an 89-second knockout of Peter McNeeley after spending three years in an Indiana prison for rape, had been scheduled to fight Buster Mathis last night.

The fight, slated to be shown on the Fox network in direct conflict with TVKO's presentation of Bowe-Holyfield III, was postponed when Tyson re-injured his right thumb in sparring sessions here Monday and Tuesday.

Two Las Vegas orthopedic surgeons predicted it would take four to six weeks for the thumb to completely heal.

Co-manager John Horne insisted Mathis would remain Tyson's next opponent, with mid-December or January as the likely date at the MGM Grand. With a spring match against Bruno also in the offing, this would put a possible fight with Bowe at least a year away.

Rock Newman said if Lewis is not available as Bowe's next opponent, he would consider one of the young heavyweights, with Shannon Briggs and Jeremy Williams at the top of his list.

Meanwhile, Bowe questioned the wisdom of Tyson scratching from the Mathis match.

"I fought Mathis with a bad hand last year," said Bowe, recalling the fight 15 months ago that was declared "no-contest" when he punched Mathis after flooring him in the fourth round.

"I was beating him with one hand. Buster ain't exactly like fighting a Bengal tiger. Tyson didn't have to be at his best to beat him."

But Newman, who had been in direct competition with the Tyson-Mathis match before the injury, expressed little sympathy.

"The train just blew by Tyson," he said. "The winner of Bowe-Holyfield will be the big star in heavyweight boxing."

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