Lewis has November deadline to defend against Tua

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The Independent Online

Negotiations are under way for the New Zealander David Tua to fight the world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, in November.

Dan Goosen, Tua's promoter, said the International Boxing Federation has ordered Lewis to fight his boxer - the IBF's No 1 contender since December 1998 - no later than November.

"The IBF mandated that it has to happen in November. David is the No 1 mandatory challenger who wants to show he's the best," Goosen said in a tele-conference call on Tuesday from Las Vegas, where Tua is training.

"Lewis obviously has taken a road to avoid David, but he can't avoid him past November. Lennox has done everything he can to avoid David. Certainly David has done everything he can to fight Lennox."

Lewis, who retained his IBF and World Boxing Council titles with an easy second-round knock-out of the woefully-inept American Michael Grant on Saturday in Madison Square Garden, is due to fight the South African Frans Botha in July.

Lewis lost his World Boxing Association title on a court ruling that he would forfeit the crown if he fought Grant instead of the group's top contender, John Ruiz. Grant was ranked fifth by the WBA.

Goosen said that the 28-year-old Tua, whose last fight was in November when he stopped Shane Sutcliffe in the second round, is likely to fight again on 29 May, adding that no opponent had yet been selected. Tua's only defeat was on a 12-round decision to Ike Ibeabuchi in 1997.

Lewis said on Saturday that he thought Tua was too small for him, but the Kiwi sees that as a benefit. "He's 6 feet 5 inches. I feel with my height at 5ft 10in it's an advantage for me," Tua said. "Lewis against big guys just punches straight. With me he has to punch down, he has to look for me. I have to slip his punches, hit him in the body, hit him in the chest and hit him in the chin."

Tua, whose fighting weight is now over 230lb, has a relentless attacking style and would appear to be a tough opponent for the 34-year old Lewis.

Tua said he thought Lewis looked "great" in dismantling Grant but qualified his remark by adding that it was a "one-sided fight. The only thing I saw was that Michael went out and tried to get lucky. Lennox was the only one landing."

Tua believes that Lewis's handlers were not doing him any favours in pumping up his performance against the inept Grant. "Sure, they're probably helping his confidence. But you have to face the music. You gotta have more than the big right hand," he said.