King wins the rights to Lewis title fight

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To the surprise of many in the sport, Don King has outbid rival promoters to stage a contest between Lennox Lewis and Oliver McCall for the vacant World Boxing Council heavyweight championship, writes Ken Jones.

While nobody doubts King's financial clout in these matters, it was thought more likely that the fight would be staged by Lewis's joint promoters. But when the purse bids were opened at the WBC offices in Mexico City yesterday King's offer was more than $3m (pounds 2m) better than that submitted by his main rival, Lewis's manager, Frank Maloney.

Lewis and McCall will share $9.152m when the contest is staged, most probably in the United States later this year.

The WBC title passed from Lewis to McCall, who knocked him out at Wembley two years ago, and then to Frank Bruno, who outpointed McCall before losing it to Mike Tyson. Following court proceedings, Lewis was confirmed as challenger but took $4m for stepping aside so that Tyson could challenge Bruce Seldon for the World Boxing Association championship.

The WBC title was not at stake and Tyson gave it up after knocking out a hapless Seldon in one round. "I'm amazed that King bid so much money," Maloney said last night, "but I'm delighted that Lennox has got another massive pay day."