Boxing: King's purse deadline

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The Independent Online
LENNOX LEWIS' heavyweight title return with Evander Holyfield is scheduled for the Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, on 13 November, it was confirmed yesterday. However, the American promoter Don King still needs to guarantee a pounds 12m purse for Holyfield within a month.

Seth Abraham, the president of Home Box Office and parent company Time Warner Sports, will guarantee Lewis his purse money of around pounds 6m.

King, who promoted the first fight last March, will be responsible for staging the contest and for the payment of Holyfield. "We put up the money for the first fight. Now Don will take the risk, and it's his business where he gets the money from," said Abraham. "The Las Vegas Hilton will sponsor the bout, for which contracts must be signed by the end of July."

The first Lewis-Holyfield clash, which was for the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation heavyweight titles, ended in a controversial draw. Eugenia Williams scored it for Holyfield, Steve Christodoulou favoured Lewis and Britain's Larry O'Connell recorded a tie.

Abraham said: "I do not believe the first fight was fixed but blown by inept scoring. Boxing is a sport that has a perpetual cold. It is never in perfect health and 13 March was even worse than a cold. For Holyfield and Lewis it is about pride and money, so hopefully the rematch will go a long way to cleansing the first bout."

The WBO featherweight champion, Naseem Hamed, will make his third appearance in the United States on 2 October. Lou Di Bella, of HBO/Time Warner, is trying to sign a top-class opponent to meet the unbeaten Sheffield southpaw. Two names being considered are the WBC champion, Caesar Soto, and Manuel Medina, who holds the IBF title. Although both have so far priced themselves out of the market, Di Bella said he will make Soto another offer.

Medina, who regained the IBF title when he beat Hector Lizarraga in April 1998, wants almost pounds 2m to avenge his 11th-round defeat by Hamed in August 1996. Soto is asking for pounds 950,000 to risk the WBC belt he took from Luisito Espinosa two months ago.