Boxing: Lewis looks to defend his crown at home

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The Independent Online
LENNOX LEWIS last night revealed his renewed desire to fight "at home" again after becoming Britain's first undisputed world champion in 102 years.

The big business that engulfs heavyweight boxing has meant that 10 of Lewis's last 11 bouts have been staged in America, the exception being a non-title bout in Dublin in mid-1995.

The undisputed world champion's last home fight was in September 1994 at the Wembley Arena when Oliver McCall inflicted his only professional defeat. One venue being considered is Wembley stadium with HBO, the American cable television network that payrolls Lewis's fights, agreeing in principle to back a meeting with Michael Grant next Spring - provided the New Yorker beats Poland's Andrew Golota in Atlantic City on Saturday. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time - to make the Americans come to Britain, because that's where the belts are," Lewis said.

Well, not all the belts. The International Boxing Federation has given Lewis a Friday deadline to pay the $350,000 (pounds 220,000) sanction fee to keep their version of the title. The IBF president, Robert Lee, says the title is now vacant after the controversial events in Las Vegas on Saturday when the IBF withdrew its belt seconds before Lewis went into the ring to secure a unanimous points verdict over Evander Holyfield. Lewis's lawyers intend to fight the case if he does lose the title.

Before returning triumphant, Lewis will fly to Los Angeles to make a personal appearance on the celebrated Jay Leno television show, an indication of his increased personality status in America.

Lewis could be back in England tomorrow or Thursday, and has not ruled out attending the second leg of England's Euro 2000 play-off against Scotland at Wembley.

IBF in court, page 27