BOXING: TV deal stands between Lewis and Holyfield

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The Independent Online
LENNOX LEWIS is poised to join Evander Holyfield and sign for their multi-million heavyweight unification fight on 27 February or 6 March. Britain's World Boxing Council heavyweight champion will put pen to paper once the television deal is completed with the cable network, Home Box Office, which the promoter, Don King, was negotiating yesterday.

A hitch has still to be resolved - not over Lewis v Holyfield itself but on Holyfield's future fights if he beats Lewis. HBO wants to acquire the services of the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion, as does its pay-per-view rivals, Showtime.

The WBC champion's promoter, Panos Eliades, said: "Holyfield's signed, and we are OK. The only problem is between the TV companies. HBO want to sign up Holyfield and so do Showtime if he becomes undisputed champion. That hiccup has still to be ironed out.

"Now Holyfield's signed, there's no problem with Lennox signing, which will probably be done on Monday. I've spoken to Holyfield's lawyer, Jim Thomas, and everything looks good."

Once those formalities are completed, the Lewis camp will finally abandon their 5 or 12 December dates for an alternative defence in America.

Lewis's manager, Frank Maloney, said: "I'm excited - it's all systems go. There's no problems from our end. Lennox is happy. It's just a matter of putting his signature on the contract and faxing it back."

Spencer Oliver admits it will be tough watching Michael Brodie attempt to take his former European super-bantamweight title from Sergei Devakov in Manchester tonight.

It will be 168 days after Devakov knocked out Oliver in the 10th round and the unconscious Barnet fighter had then to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Thankfully, Oliver has made a remarkable recovery, but a flourishing boxing career was finished by that shocking defeat.

He cannot remember a thing about that ill-fated bout in May. "I watched the fight for the first time on Tuesday. It was a lot harder watch than I thought it was going to be, put it that way," Oliver said.

The Sheffield veteran Herol Graham will try for his third British title on 21 November - more than 17 years after the first of his nine domestic championship fights.

Graham, 39, will meet the former champion, David Starie, at the Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre in Southwark for the super-middleweight crown vacated by Dean Francis - with Starie's Commonwealth title also on the line.

It replaces the Crawford Ashley v Henry Wharton British and European title light-heavyweight title contest, postponed because Wharton cut an eye in sparring.