- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Mike Tyson must be licensed to fight by March 25 and a venue must be in place by that date or else his opponent in the much anticipated match heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis could be stripped of the International Boxing Federation version of the title.

The deadline, put in place by the IBF executive committee as a condition to grant Lewis an exception from a scheduled mandatory challenge against No.1-ranked contender Chris Byrd, means the District Boxing and Wrestling Commission must act within two weeks of its March 12 public hearing on Tyson's application to be licensed to fight in the District or else the fight could be called off and Lewis risks being stripped of the IBF belt. He also holds the World Boxing Council heavyweight title.

Both Lewis and Tyson have to agree to the conditions imposed by the IBF by tomorrow or else risk having the exception revoked. The other conditions include having the winner of Lewis-Tyson fight Byrd next, with no bouts in between and no later than Dec.8. Also, if it appears that Lewis-Tyson will not take place, Lewis must immediately begin talks for a Byrd fight. Byrd has 10 days from the decision to appeal the ruling.

There are other jurisdictions that could emerge as a licensing option for Tyson, who has been seeking a license since the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to grant him one on Jan.29, a week after Tyson went berserk at a New York news conference announcing the fight and attacked Lewis on stage after a face-off between the two fighters erupted into a brawl.

New York boxing chief Ray Kelly told the New York Post yesterday that a Tyson license application would be considered there.

"I can't say absolutely that he would not be licensed here," Kelly said. "We do respect the Nevada commission, and we would have to look closely at some of the same issues Nevada did. But if he applied to fight in New York, we would have to consider it."

Madison Square Garden had been in competition with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the original site for Lewis-Tyson, with the Las Vegas hotel-casino coming out on top with a $15million site fee for promoters, about $2million more than New York. If the Garden revives that offer, it will be difficult for the District, where promoters will not receive a site fee and have to pay to use the proposed location MCI Center to compete.

Organizers hoping to put together Lewis-Tyson now have to deal with the IBF deadline if Lewis wants to keep his IBF belt. Byrd (34-2, 19 knockouts) became the IBF mandatory challenger by defeating David Tua last August. Tua, who had been the No.1 challenger, had sued the IBF, demanding that they force Lewis to defend his IBF title. An agreement was reached and signed by a federal judge that set up an elimination bout between Tua and Byrd, with the winner to be granted a title fight against Lewis by April22.

As part of the negotiations for a Tyson fight, Lewis had applied to federal court for the right to seek an exception, and the court granted him the right to make that application to the IBF.

Tyson and his advisors have gone on a nationwide hunt to find a jurisdiction to grant him a license since Nevada turned him down. He was turned down in Texas and Georgia, and on Monday the Colorado Boxing Commission denied a request by a promoter to put on a Lewis-Tyson fight there.

In all, more than 20 different locations, both in the United States and internationally, have been mentioned as possible locations for a Lewis-Tyson fight. A lawyer representing Tyson last week said he hopes the Nevada commission reverses its decision to license Tyson in light of the decision by prosecutors in Las Vegas to reject police recommendations and not pursue rape charges against the boxer.

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