Rahman's next move: some more dealing

Champ must pick foe and network affiliation

Boxing

April 30, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

A manager for heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman yesterday confirmed reports that there are three different contracts to fight Lennox Lewis, whom the Baltimore boxer knocked out in the fifth round April 21 to win the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation crowns.

Stan Hoffman said he and Rahman signed one contract that called for a rematch within 150 days and did not prohibit an interim fight, which Rahman is seeking against Mike Tyson. A title bout against Tyson, the top contender for the WBC version of his crown, reportedly could earn Rahman more than $10 million.

Rahman's promoter, Cedric Kushner, signed a second contract that he was told was the same as the first. However, the latter allowed for an interim fight only if it did not take place in the 60 days before the Lewis rematch, and it required the interim opponent, should he defeat Rahman, to fight Lewis next.

A third contract, filed with the IBF, had no rematch clause.

Tyson has a contract with the Showtime network, and Lewis with HBO. Rahman has no ties to either network and is free to negotiate with both.

A source close to Rahman's negotiations said Showtime has offered up to $10 million for him to fight Tyson, and that HBO "has offered a package equal or close to Showtime's offer" for a Lewis rematch.

"It's up to my promoters, but if it was up to me, I'd fight Mike Tyson," said Rahman, who has received pro-Tyson responses when he asks fans which fight they'd like to see.

HBO could lose the title indefinitely if Rahman fought and lost to Tyson, who is not likely to break his contract with Showtime in order to fight Lewis.

Lewis' co-promoters, New Jersey-based Main Events and London-based Lion Promotions, issued a release last week that designated Aug. 18 as the rematch date.

Immediate rematches are prohibited by the Muhammad Ali Act - an attempt by Congress to loosen the grip of promoters over fighters - unless a fight ends in controversy. Lewis' promoters referred to "an unexpected and controversial result" in last week's release.

"The man got knocked out," Hoffman said. "I didn't see any controversial ending."

The news release surprised the camp of Rahman, who will require time for a cut over an eye to heal.

"They announced the date without talking to Cedric or myself. It means zero," Hoffman said. "They're the losers, and they're dictating when we're going to fight and who we're going to fight? Absolutely not."

Hoffman and Kushner will continue to talk with both networks, and Kushner said he is willing to fight the matter in court.

"I will obviously consult with my legal counsel on something of this magnitude," Kushner said. "There's no way, as long as I'm with Hasim Rahman, that someone's telling me who he fights without asking me."

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