BOXING: Lewis faces legal battle

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reports from Sacramento

While it now appears that Frank Bruno will fight Oliver McCall for the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship on 22 July at Wembley Stadium, his fourth attempt at a world title, the prospects for Lennox Lewis are less encouraging.

After his victory here on Saturday, when he stopped Lionel Butler in the fifth round of an official eliminator, Lewis was entitled to assume that he would go forward to meet either Bruno or McCall as the WBC's mandatory challenger. Instead, he only shares the status with Mike Tyson who has been elevated to No 1 under a rule that provides former champions with a special dispensation.

When called upon to clarify the situation, the WBC president, Jose Sulaiman, said: "Lewis is No 1." Further to this, Sulaiman was asked what the position will be if Tyson chooses to assert his status. "Then there will be a problem," Sulaiman added.

Claiming to have statements that were minuted at the WBC convention last year, and with the British Boxing Board's backing, Lewis's advisors are prepared to pursue the matter legally.

Don King would not be drawn into it. "Every comment I make about the WBC and Sulaiman is always misconstrued," he said. "In about 10 days you'll get to hear what Mike Tyson has in mind."

Meanwhile, Lewis and his trainer, Emanuel Steward, are checking out opponents for a contest in Dublin on 2 July. It is also possible that Lewis will take up again with Independent Television who lost major boxing when the London promoter, Frank Warren, signed a contract with Sky.

Meanwhile, Warren, who is Bruno's promoter, will meet King, who is McCall's, later this week and hopes to announce the details of the show on the 22 July - which should also feature Nigel Benn's next fight - next week. There is a possibility that it could take place at a football ground in the North-east, but Warren said "it's 90 per cent certain for London on the 22nd".

Lewis's winning return, page 30