Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman will still bring their world heavyweight title roadshow to London on Monday.
Lewis's London office confirmed yesterday that the pair will be jetting in to promote their November world heavyweight title rematch in Las Vegas. There had been fears the head-to-head could be scrapped after Lewis and Rahman were involved in a brawl during a recording for the American network ESPN in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Lewis reacted furiously to what he believed were jibes from his opponent concerning his sexuality – and Rahman hit back when Lewis responded with derogatory remarks about his sister. The pair tussled at close quarters as frantic host Gary Miller tried to persuade them to calm down. They crashed through a table before their respective entourages managed to calm things down.
There were inevitable claims that the impromptu bout was rigged to boost ticket sales. Lewis's behaviour surprised the British Boxing Board of Control's general secretary Simon Block. Given that both the interview and fight will take place outside their jurisdiction, the British authority can take no action but will view Monday's meeting a little more closely. "Lennox Lewis has been a model champion and he has conducted himself so well inside and outside the ring," Block said.
"While it is unclear who instigated the problem, I am very sorry that Lennox has found himself dragged into it. This has done nothing to enhance his prestige, particularly amongst non-boxing people, nor indeed the prestige of the sport."
Ed Keenan, a spokesman for Don King Productions, confirmed that neither fighter had been injured during the furore and that the publicity tour would continue. "Rahman is on his way to Las Vegas and Lewis is staying in Los Angeles and will go there later," Keenan said. "They are both going to London. Don is going to make Rock go."
Block pleaded to both men to put their differences behind them and show a united front in London for the benefit of their sport. "I urge both fighters, both of whom I know to be decent people, to put this behind them and make sure that the public are aware that all the action they will see will take place inside the ring on 17 November," he said.
"I was very sorry to see what happened at this press conference. It was not really very funny and it was very, very poor for boxing."Reuse content