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
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
Band was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
Loan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
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

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Construction Solicitor / Partner

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - Senior Construction Solici...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

DT teachers required for supply roles in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: DT teachers required ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering