A Superior Court Judge, Amos Saunders, ruled in Paterson, New Jersey, that Don King Productions had failed to meet contractual obligations after the WBC had accepted the company's pounds 6m purse bid for a Lewis-Oliver McCall fight on September 26.
Saunders instead awarded the bout to the New Jersey-based promoter, Main Events, which bid just over pounds 4m for the fight. The president of Main Events is Dino Duva, Lewis's promoter in the United States. Lewis and McCall are both guaranteed pounds 2m instead of the pounds 3m each would have received from King. The indications are that the fight could be held in London early in the new year.
"It just means I do get my date," Lewis said after the hearing. "I can feel more assured the fight will go on."
In court Lewis said: "My concern is that a number of different times a fight was supposed to happen and it didn't happen. It seems like I'm being stretched along. Every time it's in Don King's hands, it seems like something goes wrong."
The WBC's attorney said there would be an appeal against the decision. King refused to comment but was overheard saying "this is sad" as he left the courthouse.
Dino Duva said King had had no intention of staging the fight in January. "He doesn't control Lennox Lewis," Duva said. "He fears his ability in the ring fighting his own fighters. I look forward to promoting the fight. They told me we had to do it in 90 days and we'll do it in 90 days."