HBO talking contract with WBC champ Lewis Deal reportedly includes Holyfield unification bout

May 13, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

HBO's negotiations to extend the contract of Lennox Lewis, the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, have intensified and moved to London, where the two sides are meeting this week.

Panos Eliades, Lewis' London-based promoter, has that they should know soon whether the offer would be acceptable to Lewis. One of the main things that Lewis wants is a unification bout with Evander Holyfield, and that is covered in the new contract.

"He wants to be known as the best and the only way to do that is to fight the best," Eliades said. Eliades said if Lewis cannot reach an agreement with HBO, he probably will sign with promoter Don King, who runs boxing shows through Showtime, HBO's main cable network rival.

King clashed with HBO in December when he tried to make a heavyweight unification bout between Lewis and Holyfield. Based on their projections of what the bout would do on pay per view, HBO offered Holyfield $16 million for the fight. King said Holyfield's price started at $20 million.

Although King and HBO have a contentious relationship, King has said he wouldn't stand in the way of a unification bout being broadcast on HBO as long as Holyfield got the right price.

Eliades said there was nothing in the new negotiations covering a possible future fight with Mike Tyson, who is suspended from boxing for biting Holyfield's ear during a bout last June 28.

"We're not happy with the overall figures of the contract, but it's something we can live with," Eliades said from London.

Seth Abraham, president of Time-Warner/HBO Sports, said his network wants to re-sign Lewis. It gives the network a heavyweight champion in its lineup whom it can match with other young heavyweights like Michael Grant, David Tua and Chris Byrd, and with other veteran heavyweights like Michael Moorer and Buster Douglas.

Pub Date: 5/13/98

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