Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman will meet with his co-managers, Stan Hoffman and Steve Nelson, and his promoter, Cedric Kushner, today in New York to discuss offers from Home Box Office and Showtime for his first world title defense. They hope to arrive at a decision "as soon as possible," Kushner said yesterday.
HBO and Showtime have engaged in an unprecedented bidding war for Rahman, who had no ties to either network when he won the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation championship belts from Lennox Lewis on April 21.
Last week, Showtime increased its total package for a bout with Mike Tyson to $16.25 million - a purse of $13.15 million, a $3 million signing bonus and an additional $100,000 to purchase cars.
The Showtime offer also includes a five-fight deal worth between $6 million and $10 million a bout if Rahman defeats Tyson. If he should lose, the deal calls for at least two more televised bouts.
HBO has offered Rahman a $14 million purse to fight Lewis, with two more fights - at a total of $3 million - on HBO guaranteed, regardless of the Rahman-Lewis result. Should Rahman win, HBO would give him a six-fight deal with escalating purses from $5.5 million per fight to $7 million.
"We've talked with both sides today, and we have the offers we're looking for," Kushner said from his New York office yesterday. "I'm waiting to meet with Rock, face-to-face, to discuss the situation."
Pat English, the attorney for Lewis' co-promoter, Main Events, has threatened a lawsuit to force a Rahman-Lewis rematch, citing a clause in Rahman's contract for the Lewis fight. Tyson, the No. 1 contender for the WBC version of Rahman's title, already has filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York in an attempt to force his fight with the new champion.
WBC rules call for a non-mandatory challenger who wins the title to make his first defense against the No. 1 contender. Rahman was a voluntary defense for Lewis, and thus inherited his next mandatory fight. According to WBC guidelines, Rahman would have until Nov. 13 to face Tyson.