After months of intensive meetings, accusations, bites, illegal punches and hearings, Lennox Lewis will defend his three world heavyweight titles against Mike Tyson at the Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee, on 8 June.
Lewis, 36, and Tyson, 35, will put their signatures on the final draft of the final contract this week that will make the fight the richest in the history of boxing. Last Friday an announcement was postponed when the First Tennessee Bank in Memphis refused to release a $12.5m (£9m) letter of credit that had been raised by local businessmen. It is understood that the money has now been made available and the boxers, their rival American TV networks and their management teams have reached a binding agreement.
The fight was originally to take place on 6 April in Las Vegas and in January Lewis was ready to go into training and had selected his sparring partners. But then the pair had a fight at a press conference in New York when Lewis claimed to have been bitten by the American. A few days later the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to give Tyson a licence and the fight was off.
Over the weekend Lewis's New York lawyer, Judd Burstein, was in London going over the contract with Lewis's de facto manager, Adrian Ogun. At the same time Tyson's representatives were agreeing their end of the deal in New York. "It was done on Friday. Trust me, the fight was 110 per cent on Friday but there was just a small problem," said one of Lewis's camp.
Two weeks ago the fight looked like it had been salvaged when Tyson passed a series of psychiatric evaluations and was given a licence to box in Washington. But then the funding for the capital adventure vanished and the fight was homeless once again. A half-hearted bid from a Detroit consortium remained a fantasy.
It is understood that the financial deal agreed by both boxers in January will remain in place and Lewis and Tyson will each receive £15m. Lewis could make another £8m from his percentage of the pay-per-view revenue. Tyson agreed a set figure in January when it was obvious that Lewis would not accept his rival receiving more than him.
The fight will be screened live by both HBO, who have a decade of investment in Lewis, and Showtime, who have likewise with Tyson. The victorious boxer's network will have the delayed TV rights. BSkyB has not secured the British rights yet but it is unlikely that they will lose out to the BBC.Reuse content