Boxing: IBF blocks Lewis bout

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE divisions that militate against a return to the simple days of undisputed world champions resurfaced yesterday when the projected heavyweight reunification bout between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield next April was jeopardised yesterday by the International Boxing Federation's sense of fair play.

Lewis, the World Boxing Council champion, and Holyfield, who beat Riddick Bowe last month to regain the IBF and World Boxing Association versions, were about to sign a contract worth pounds 27m. The last obstacle looked to have been removed when Michael Moorer, ranked No 1 by both the WBA and IBF, volunteered to waive his rightful challenge to Holyfield provided he would meet the winner. Instead, the IBF president, Bob Lee, has declined the offer.

'The object is to have the No 1 challenger fight for the title,' he explained, 'not sell that right to someone else.' Bowe, Lee insisted, had requested to fight Holyfield rather than Moorer. 'That was agreed to, provided the winner agreed to fight Moorer next. You have to have your rules stand for something. You can't have cherrypicking going on.'