- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2001

BALTIMORE The Mike Tyson-David Izon fight at MCI Center likely is off, according to sources familiar with the promotion.
The delays in promoting that fight the result of the negotiations for a fight pitting Tyson against newly crowned World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman have left the June 2 bout at MCI "all but dead," the sources said.
Because there was no site fee paid by MCI to hold the Tyson-Izon fight, promoters would have been forced to rely heavily on the live gate for revenue. With the fight four weeks away and tickets not on sale yet, it won't leave enough time to promote the fight, the sources said.
Showtime, one of Tyson's financial backers that was scheduled to broadcast the fight, still has some dates left open in June for a Tyson-Izon fight if it were pushed back, although where that fight would take place is unclear.
Meanwhile, talks intensified between Showtime and Rahman's representatives for a Rahman-Tyson fight. Both sides are studying how to overcome the legal hurdle of the controversial rematch clause in the contract Rahman signed when he made his agreement to fight Lennox Lewis, who lost his WBC and IBF belts to Rahman on April 21 in a stunning fifth-round knockout in South Africa.
Home Box Office, Lewis' network, and Main Events, Lewis' promoters, maintain that their contract with Rahman mandates a rematch within a specific time period, one that would not allow Rahman to have an interim title defense before the rematch with Lewis.
However, there are at least three different signed versions of the Lewis-Rahman contract: one that gave Lewis a rematch within 150 days of the first fight; another that said Rahman could not take a fight 60 days before the announced date of the rematch (Main Events already has issued a statement declaring Aug. 18 the rematch date, which Rahman's co-manager, Stan Hoffman, dismissed as invalid); and a third version that said any interim opponent Rahman fights would have to honor Lewis' rematch agreement.
Hoffman and promoter Cedric Kushner have insisted that the deal allows Rahman to have an interim title defense before a Lewis rematch and have made it clear they want that fight to be against Tyson. That set off a bidding war between Showtime, which sources said offered Rahman $13 million for a Tyson fight, and HBO, which could be frozen out of the heavyweight division and offered Rahman $14 million, sources said.
Promoter Don King also is in the picture, offering Rahman $15 million to fight his heavyweight, World Boxing Association champion John Ruiz. In a report in today's Baltimore Sun, Rahman denied a Washington Times report that he met with King. However, one of his co-managers, Steve Nelson, told the Times that he knew King contacted Rahman and that the controversial promoter was interested in the heavyweight champion. Rahman also insisted he had no plans of changing managers or promoters.
However, three years ago Rahman nearly broke away from Kushner and his manager to sign with King in a dispute that called into question the Baltimore heavyweight's credibility and nearly ended his professional career. Kushner and HBO executives charged that Rahman faked an injury to pull out of a scheduled fight with David Tua to sign a deal with King instead. Lou DiBella, then HBO's senior vice president of marketing and main boxing official, said Rahman had "shown a complete lack of character."
Rahman was threatened with lawsuits by Kushner, HBO and Main Events, then Tua's promoter, but eventually the dispute was settled, though Kushner's suit against King remains active in the courts. Rahman stayed with Kushner and his managers even though he accepted a $125,000 payment from King. Rahman contended he took the money from King after the promoter threatened that Rahman would never get a chance to fight for the heavyweight championship without him.

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