Boxing: Lewis date in doubt

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The Independent Online
Lennox Lewis's mandatory World Boxing Council heavyweight title defence against Henry Akinwande now looks unlikely to go ahead on 12 July.

Because Akinwande's promoter, Don King, delayed returning a signed contract by the 5pm Friday deadline, the American cable network Home Box Office "pulled the date", according to Lewis's backer, Panos Eliades.

HBO needed the date confirmed in their schedules to begin advertising their coverage of the London fight in the United States. Eliades will seek alternative television coverage for 12 July over the next couple of days, otherwise he will go back to HBO for alternative dates or ask the WBC president, Jose Sulaiman, to call for purse offers.

Lewis was due to fly out today to his training camp in Pennsylvannia's Pocono Mountains, but his departure has now been put back a week.

"A contract was sent to King on Thursday but he delayed it and, at 4pm, returned it with an amendment," Eliades said. "He wanted a sum non-refundable paid to them in advance of the fight. Also, he wanted a clause that if Akinwande got injured, Lewis couldn't fight until Akinwande got himself fit again. That wasn't acceptable. Time just ran out."

It is a further frustration for Lewis and his backers. Eliades and the New Jersey-based Main Events organisation have been trying to secure a deal with King for the last three months. Seven different purse offer dates were scrapped to give both camps extra time to try to reach agreement, but it seems now the fight will reach the bidding stage.