Holyfield said HBO would guarantee only 650,000 pay-per-view buys for the proposed fight, guaranteeing him about $15m (pounds 9m) to pounds 18m. He made $20m when he faced the less formidable Michael Moorer.
"I was looking forward to [the fight]," Holyfield was reported as saying. "But it wasn't so much the fault of the promoters or the managers as it was the network. If a network says they're No 1 in boxing, they need to prove it. They need to share the risk, too."
Holyfield is the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion. Lewis holds the World Boxing Council title.
Holyfield said he still believes a unification fight with Lewis will occur, perhaps in 1999, but a meeting with Mike Tyson could take precedence should, as anticipated, the disgraced former world champion have his fight licence restored.