Tyson may be next for Rahman

Word on champ's foe expected next week


April 27, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Promoter Cedric Kushner will meet with officials from Home Box Office and Showtime and the management and promotional teams of Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson to determine which man next will face Baltimore heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.

Kushner, who said he expects a decision "sometime next week," met with HBO's senior vice president, Kery Davis, and, Tyson's adviser, Shelly Finkel, earlier this week.

On Saturday night (Eastern time) in Brakpan, South Africa, Rahman shocked the boxing world when his vicious right cross knocked out world champion Lennox Lewis in the fifth round, separating the Englishman from his senses and his World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles.

Now, Rahman, a 28-year-old father of three, hopes to pad his children's college funds against Tyson, a match that could earn Rahman a reported $15 million.

"I still have the obligation to read both deals and see who's putting what on the table," said Stan Hoffman, Rahman's co-manager with Steve Nelson. "But I've talked to huge amounts of people, and no one is interested in Lennox Lewis right now. They want to see us fight Tyson.

"My gut feeling is that these guys, being HBO and Lewis' people, are not prepared to give us near what Showtime would give us to fight Mike Tyson."

If a deal is made, Finkel told USA Today earlier this week, then Tyson's non-title bout with David Izon, scheduled for June 2 at MCI Center, would "disappear." Tyson is the No. 1-ranked contender for Rahman's WBC crown.

"I like hearing $15 million. I think we can get somewhere near that with Tyson," Hoffman said. "If the other guy [Lewis] wants the belt back so bad, they'll have to come up with the B-R-E-A-D."

A rematch clause in Lewis' contract for last weekend's fight calls for a return bout within 150 days - that would be in mid-September - but does not rule out an interim fight, Hoffman said.

"Rahman wants Tyson," Kushner said.

Rahman has no ties to either HBO (which has a contract with Lewis) or Showtime (Tyson's network). But Lewis' co-promoters, New Jersey-based Main Events and London-based Lion Promotions, recently issued a news release designating Aug. 18 as the rematch date. Hoffman said he received the notice Wednesday, adding it "means zero, because they haven't talked to us."

"There's no way, as long as I'm with Hasim Rahman, that someone's telling me who he fights without asking me," said Kushner. "It's just a legal maneuver to start the clock."

Rahman's victory derailed a Tyson-Lewis matchup worth an estimated $100 million to the fighters.

After his victory parade in Baltimore on Wednesday, Rahman, his family and members of his team sat down to dinner. Flanked by Hoffman and Kushner, the champ, who had been thrown from a convertible in an accident during the parade, sat eating a plateful of chicken wings and french fries.

Kushner's cell phone rang. The caller had a message from Finkel.

"Mike Tyson heard about the car accident. Wants to know if you're all right," Kushner said. "He heard your arm was broken." Shaking his head, Rahman replied: "Tell him I'm all right."

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