Holyfield fight fades for Lewis

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The Independent Online
A unification fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield appears a distant prospect as the British boxer's camp face up to finding an alternative opponent for the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion.

Attempts to pair Lewis with World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation holder Holyfield have run headlong into a cul-de-sac with apparently no chance of a U-turn.

A fight with Shannon Briggs in Atlantic City on Friday, 6 Marchor James "Buster'' Douglas in Las Vegas on Saturday, 7 March looks the likely alternative.

"The Holyfield fight could be gone this weekend," Lewis' promoter, Panos Eliades, said. "I haven't heard from Don King. He's got the contracts and time is almost up. I'm working on Briggs and Douglas. The deal with Douglas' promoter Bob Arum is done and we are just about to conclude the deal with Briggs' handlers Cedric Kushner and Mark Roberts.

"I don't know what Holyfield is hearing but he's not hearing the right noises. If Lewis-Holyfield is going to happen it's going to have to wait until later in the year. That is what it's looking like. I've done whatever I can. I've spent 200 hours on trying to get a fight with Holyfield. It's frustrating. I can't work out where Holyfield is coming from in all this.

"Lennox says if we don't get the Holyfield deal done, we're off. Rather than lose your dates and moving on until June, you may as well get your other fights done."

Holyfield's hand will be forced when the winner emerges from today's WBA title final eliminator between Britain's Henry Akinwande and Orlin Norris in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The fight was ordered by a US judge and Holyfield must fight Akinwande or Norris by 28 June to further complicate an already confused heavyweight picture.

Tonight in Sheffield, just 23 days past his 23rd birthday, Ryan Rhodes tackles the more experienced Canadian southpaw Otis Grant for the vacant World Boxing Organisation middleweight title at the Ponds Forge international centre.

It is a sizeable rise in class for a prospect of 16 professional fights and, if Rhodes passes the test, he will become Britain's youngest world champion since Jack "Kid" Berg in 1930.

Technology is being provided for his friend Naseem Hamed to watch Rhodes' title attempt by satellite link-up in his hotel room in New York, where he is preparing for next Friday's world title fight with Kevin Kelley.

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