Boxing: Date is set for Lewis defence

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The Independent Online
After three months of non-stop talks and uncertainty, Lennox Lewis can now start preparing to make the first defence of his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Henry Akinwande in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, on 12 July.

Following negotiations, which ran on through the night, agreement was eventually reached. And, importantly, Home Box Office, the American cable network, have contracted to stage the bout after withdrawing last weekend.

Lewis v Akinwande will start at 4pm local time to allow a midnight screening in Britain by Sky television. Lewis said: "I'm pleased all the politics and all the messing around are over, I just want to get on with my career. Because of all the trouble I've been caused, I intend to make Akinwande pay."

Lewis will soon move to an altitude training camp at Big Bear in northern California. It is a venue he used before his crucial WBC eliminator stoppage of Lionel Butler in Sacramento two years ago.

No less than seven purse offer deadlines were scrapped while negotiations went on between Don King, Akinwande's promoter, and the Lewis camp. The meeting between the two British-born heavyweights was recently finalised for Atlantic City. King, however, is not allowed to be involved in any promotion in the New Jersey gambling resort. A London fight was shelved by a contractual delay.

Akinwande, the unbeaten mandatory challenger, has made two successful defences of the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight championship, the last against Scott Welch, the Brighton boxer, in Nashville in January, but relinquished the title to concentrate on a challenge for Lewis's crown.