Lewis reaps a king's ransom

Harry Mullan tells how a Briton's independence has been richly rewarded

Gerry Adams having a night on the tiles with Ian Paisley? Improbable. Mike Tyson running scared from Lennox Lewis? Even less likely. We are talking here of the man who, as surely as any master butcher, can remove the backbone from normally courageous opponents just by glaring at them across the ring.

Yet that is the interpretation we are being asked to put on Tyson's reluctance to face the Englishman, which resulted last week in the World Boxing Council withdrawing recognition from Tyson as their heavyweight champion.

Lewis will now contest the vacant title with Oliver McCall, the man who wrecked his unbeaten record and took his WBC championship with a shocking second-round stoppage two years ago. That all fits neatly into Tyson's master-plan, orchestrated as ever by his promoter Don King. Now that Riddick Bowe has ruled himself out of contention with that appalling performance against Andrew Golota, whom he could only beat on a disqualification, Lewis is the solitary "serious money" opponent on Tyson's horizon, providing he can set the record straight with McCall.

He will be heavily favoured to do so, since McCall's life has spun so drastically out of control since beating Lewis that he has only recently been discharged from a court-enforced stay in a detox centre after being found in possession of cocaine. McCall's lethargic display in losing the title to Frank Bruno last year is a truer measure of his ability than his win over Lewis: he could have fought Lewis 10 times, and lost nine of them.

Assuming Lewis wins the rematch and Tyson beats the International Boxing Federation champion Michael Moorer and the World Boxing Organisation's representative Henry Akinwande, a Tyson-Lewis showdown becomes even more attractive and marketable. It would involve all the various championship belts, in the first contest for the undisputed title since 25 February 1989, when Tyson stopped Frank Bruno in their first fight. Side-stepping Lewis at this point makes sound economic sense from both men's viewpoints, since a fight involving all four versions of the title would be infinitely more rewarding than a match for just the WBC and World Boxing Association titles.

Lewis is actually making a profitable career out of not fighting Tyson. He received pounds 4m in "step-aside" money from King for allowing Tyson to fight the WBA champion Bruce Seldon rather than comply with a New Jersey court ruling that his next fight must be against Lewis, and now he will share an astonishing purse of pounds 6m with McCall. King won the purse bidding, conducted in Mexico City on Thursday, by a margin of more than pounds 2m, which prompted Lewis's manager Frank Maloney to remark, only half-jokingly, that "King must be printing his own money".

King had originally planned to put the fight on his 9 November show in Las Vegas, which features Tyson's defence against the former champion Evander Holyfield, but Maloney's comment that "I wouldn't bet against the fight going on in England as a co-promotion between King and Frank Warren" suggests that such a deal may already have been done.

In America, Lewis v McCall would merely be an expensive sideshow, but with an 18,000 capacity crowd in the Nynex Arena in Manchester it becomes viable. Warren plans a mega-show there on 9 November, but since he has already scheduled three world title fights for that card he is unlikely to throw away Lewis v McCall on a show which is already capable of selling out on its own merits. Lewis has remained stubbornly independent of King, who controls the division's other main players apart from Bowe, and now that independence is being richly rewarded.

Fighters rarely receive anything like the published purse figures, since deals are usually struck with the promoter in return for home advantage or similar "edges". But Lewis does not need to make any such arrangement with King, and will insist on every last pound of his entitlement. Lewis's management team of Maloney and Panos Eliades have been derided in some quarters for their handling of his career, but the criticisms are invariably promoted by jealousy. It is hard to find fault with decisions which ensured their client earned hugely without having to face any of the major heavyweights.

Maximum pay for minimum risk is the ideal to which boxers and managers alike aspire, and Maloney and Eliades have fulfilled that ambition in some style.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?