Money, all $25 million of it, has persuaded Mike Tyson to call off his proposed 19 January warm-up against Ray Mercer and head straight into a title fight with champion Lennox Lewis, probably on 6 April, in the United States.
"This is a business, and I am sure Ray understands why I need to take Lennox out now," Tyson said in a statement yesterday. Lewis had filed a lawsuit in New York on Tuesday in a bid to get Tyson to drop his fight with Mercer or have the WBC remove him from the mandatory challenger's position.
Tyson, now 35, last fought on 13 October, beating a blubbery Brian Nielsen in seven rounds in Copenhagen before Lewis, 36, knocked out Hasim Rahman to regain ownership of one of sport's most prized possessions.
Lewis's trainer Emanuel Steward said the British fighter was delighted at the news. "He was so frustrated because he did everything he thought was asked of him to make sure he could face Mike Tyson. He hasn't had a chance to fight Tyson and Riddick Bowe because neither were prepared to fight him – but now Mike realises the public are only interest in Lennox Lewis.
"There was a chance that if Tyson had lost against Mercer he wouldn't have the chance to fight for the title."
Both fighters are expected to receive around $25m for the showdown, which might be Lewis's last before he retires.Reuse content