Lewis' camp sees a plot Promoter's spokesman derides conspiracy talk

October 04, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Asked if he is concerned about Lennox Lewis risking his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Polish roughneck Andrew Golota tonight, Lewis' manager, Frank Maloney, laughed aloud.

"Presently, there is a Polish pope and no Polish heavyweight champion," Maloney said. "There is more chance of there being a Jamaican pope than a Polish champion."

That is Maloney's public face. Behind the scenes, he has been talking of a conspiracy by Main Events Inc., the co-promoter, and Home Box Office, which controls the pay-per-view telecast, in plotting Lewis' downfall.

Maloney said he was pressured by Dino Duva and HBO to accept Golota as the opponent after the less-threatening Brian Nielsen of Denmark and Zeliko Mavrovic of Croatia were rejected.

He told the British media attending the match that Main Events Inc. would prefer to see Golota win because of its close promotional ties with the challenger. Golota is co-managed by Lou Duva, the father of Main Events Inc. president Dino Duva.

And Golota, who has been known to flaunt the rules, is seen as more of a box-office draw than the rather staid Lewis.

And, although Dino Duva co-promoted Lewis' previous title fights against Oliver McCall and Henry Akinwande, Maloney said Main Events has treated the champion from England as a second-class citizen.

When the Lewis camp arrived here from its training headquarters in Big Bear Lake, Calif., the accommodations at Caesars Palace were found to be inadequate. Maloney made his own arrangements with the hotel that is backing the fight.

A spokesman for Main Events labeled Maloney's charges as ridiculous. "Why should we want to antagonize Lewis?" he said. "It's always better to have ties with two of the best heavyweights in the world than just one. Didn't Don King try to monopolize the heavyweight division and control all three champions at one time?"

Panos Eliades, the money man behind Lewis who is serving as co-promoter, also discounted Maloney's conspiracy theory.

"I can't accept that," Eliades said. "Golota is the perfect fight for Lewis. He needs to beat a legitimate challenger to capture the public's imagination the same way [Evander] Holyfield did by destroying Mike Tyson."

Lewis opened in Las Vegas betting as a 9-5 favorite, but the fight is now regarded as a toss-up.

However, Lewis' veteran trainer, Emanuel Steward, predicted his fighter will score a knockout within three rounds.

"My guy is a more complete fighter and the bigger puncher," Steward said. "The first time Lennox hits Golota, you'll see that the Pole can't fight anybody but Riddick Bowe."

Steward, of course, was referring to Golota's two unseemly brawls with the former champion. In both fights, Golota was comfortably ahead on the scorecards but was disqualified for repeatedly hitting below the belt.

Golota's handlers insist that their fighter has gained considerable maturity since the Bowe debacles, and the opportunity to win the heavyweight crown has made him that much more dedicated.

"Golota has been in with stronger punchers than Lewis and survived," co-trainer Roger Bloodworth said. "Samson Po'uha hit him with five straight brutal right hands and couldn't drop him.

"We know Andrew has a great chin, but we don't know that about Lennox.

"Golota moves better, jabs better, throws more combinations and takes a punch. That's why he's going to leave the ring as the new heavyweight king."

The heavies

Who: Lennox Lewis (31-1, 25 KOs), London, vs. Andrew Golota (( (28-2, 25 KOs), Warsaw, Poland

What: For Lewis' World Boxing Council heavyweight title When: 9 tonight

Where: Convention Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

TV: Pay-per-view. Estimated cost $39.95. Main event will start at approximately 11: 30 p.m.

Purses: Lewis, $6 million; Golota, $2.5 million Co-feature: Arturo Gatti (28-1, 23 KOs), Jersey City, N.J., vs. Gabriel Ruelas (44-3, 23 KOs), Jalisco, Mexico, for Gatti's International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title

Pub Date: 10/04/97

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