Lewis wins IBF case but may lose WBA belt

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The Independent Online

Lennox Lewis has won a court challenge to one of his heavyweight titles but is expected to lose another decision over the second of his three championships belts.

A United States federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, on Monday rejected the bid of the International Boxing Federation No 1 heavyweight contender, David Tua, for an injunction to halt the 29 April fight between Lewis and Michael Grant in Madison Square Garden. The New Zealander Tua had claimed that he should be Lewis' mandatory next opponent instead of Grant, who is ranked No 2.

Lewis, who also holds the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles, became the undisputed champion when he won Evander Holyfield's IBF crown last November. However, Lewis is expected to lose the WBA's sanction for the Grant bout within the next week, according to those close to his camp. Last week the promoter Don King, in testimony to Manhattan Federal Court, accused Lewis of reneging on a contract that called for the winner of Lewis-Holyfield to fight the WBA's No 1 contender, who is now John Ruiz.

The WBA have sanctioned the Lewis-Grant contest, but King claims the decision is a violation of their own rules for mandatory defences. Grant is the WBA's No 5 contender.

Panos Eliades, Lewis' chief promoter, says his advisers expect the court to rule in King's favour. That would force Lewis to either cancel the Grant fight, which is extremely unlikely, be stripped of his title for going ahead with it or simply give it up. Lewis is to receive about $10m (£6.5m) to fight Grant, who will get about $4m.

Ironically, it was Lewis who had initiated the court case in a bid to have his deal with King overturned. Lewis claimed that King had coerced him into signing a fraudulent contract to fight the then No 1 contender Henry Akinwande or the leading "available contender" even though King knew that Akinwande was suffering from Hepatitis B and not likely to fight any time soon. Lewis' lawyers went to court in a bid to have their suit dropped, but King fought the proposed dismissal.

King maintains that along with the $15m Lewis took from him to fight Holyfield, the Briton agreed to fight the WBA's No 1 contender, who now is Ruiz. King has him under contract, and Ruiz is scheduled to fight Holyfield on 10 June.

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