Lewis team battles to protect belt
Friday 14 April 2000
LENNOX LEWIS, who on Wednesday night was dethrone as the World Boxing Association champion without so much as taking or throwing a punch, may no longer technically be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, but his advisors have made it clear that they, at least, are not prepared to accept the decision without a fight.
Lewis's promoter, Panos Eliades, yesterday confirmed he would be making moves to try to prevent other contenders fighting for the vacant title.
After a New York judge stripped Lewis of the belt, it would appear that the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz fight in June will count for the World Boxing Association championship. But Eliades has other ideas. "We're trying to get an order to prevent anybody else fighting for the belt until an appeal is heard," he said.
"If they [Holyfield-Ruiz] fight for that title and Lewis wins the appeal, who's got the belt? We are trying to expedite the matter, but the paperwork will not be in before Lewis makes his next defence."
That is against America's Michael Grant for the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles at Madison Square Garden, New York, on 29 April.
Eliades added: "We don't expect a decision until a long way down the line. We are talking about months, not weeks."
It took Lewis seven years to unify the titles with his points victory over Holyfield in Las Vegas in November in the re-match that followed the controversial draw in New York eight months earlier. Yet, after 146 days, the title is once again split.
Lewis is virtually certain to fight South Africa's Frans Botha at London Arena on 15 July, if Grant is overcome. That would be Lewis's first appearance in Britain since losing the WBC crown to Oliver McCall at Wembley Arena in September 1994.
Then the time will be approaching for Lewis to defend the IBF title against the top contender David Tua. Eliades will have to start negotiations for that fight from 1 August, then will come the WBC's mandatory challenge, making it difficult for Lewis to fit in a meeting with Mike Tyson - if it can be set up. With the title now split, perhaps Tyson might see the way ahead as a third fight with Holyfield - if he beats Ruiz. It would certainly have huge appeal for American audiences.
Meanwhile, Lewis must concentrate on the Grant fight and his manager, Frank Maloney, said: "He's prepared himself mentally and now he's got to pick himself up again.
"In the 10 years to unify the belts, he's had a lot of ups and downs. The WBA title was won in the ring and unfortunately it has been taken away from him in a court room."
Several prominent figures in the British boxing scene spoke out in support of Lewis yesterday. Henry Cooper, the former British and European heavyweight champion, said: "Boxing doesn't need this. I am a great believer that world champions only lose their titles in the ring. Lennox has dodged no-one and has fought all the logical contenders. You can't say he is taking easy fights.
"The problem is there are so many people with fingers in the pie these days. If you unify the titles there are fewer people involved and so less money to spread around."
Latest in Sport
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 player ratings: Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata on target - but who scored highest?
Cristiano Ronaldo sticks up for Japanese boy after he struggles to speak Portuguese
Juventus vs Real Madrid match report: Carlos Tevez gives Juve the edge after goals from Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo
Gareth Bale performance slammed by Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Lee Dixon: 'His team-mates can't be happy'
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...