- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2002

With fight organizers scheduled to return to Memphis tomorrow in anticipation of making a deal to stage the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson heavyweight title fight, the apparent jilted city Washington played host last night to the boxing promoter who still could upset those plans.
Don King was in the District to attend a dinner at the J.W. Marriott to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dorothy Height, chairwoman and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women. The controversial promoter would neither confirm or deny if he was involved in talks with Lewis to offer the heavyweight champion an alternative pay-per-view event to the troubled Tyson fight.
"My silence speaks loud and clear for me," King said.
But sources said that King could emerge with a deal for Lewis if Monday's deadline to have an agreement in place for Lewis-Tyson passes without a fight deal being completed and a site for the bout nailed down.
If no final contract and site are set by Monday, Lewis has the option of pulling out of the original contract and seeking new terms, or even another fight. Monday also is the deadline the International Boxing Federation set for Lewis, the IBF and World Boxing Council title holder, to have an agreement for the Tyson fight or else begin talks to meet the IBF's mandatory challenger, Chris Byrd.
Whatever plans King may have could become moot, though, if Shelly Finkel, Tyson's adviser, and Main Events, Lewis' promoter, complete and announce a deal tomorrow to hold the proposed June 8 fight at the Pyramid in Memphis, where there is believed to be a $12.5million site fee offered to organizers that includes financing from a group of casinos in Tunica, Miss., about 30 miles away.
As of yesterday afternoon, no meetings had been scheduled between fight organizers and officials at MCI Center, which would play host if the fight is in the District. Memphis promoter Brian Young confirmed that Finkel and Shaw were scheduled to return to that city tomorrow.
District boxing commissioner Michael Brown has said he believes the District is still an option for organizers, but Mayor Anthony Williams, a supporter of the fight, has expressed frustration being pitted against Memphis.
In a radio interview with Metrotalk's Jerry Phillips, Williams said the District would not be dragged into a bidding war, adding, "We are not interested in getting into a competition with another city."
Detroit also has been mentioned by fight organizers as a possible site, and Tyson's license was renewed Tuesday in Michigan.
Tyson already is licensed to fight in Tennessee and the District, after the Nevada Athletic Commission turned him down Jan. 29 for a license to fight in Las Vegas, one week after Tyson got into a brawl with Lewis at a New York news conference.
The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission approved a boxing license for Tyson at a March 12 public meeting in which more than 60 people testified, all in favor of Tyson. That response, along with the presence of local promoter Rock Newman, presented problems for the Lewis camp, as Washington was perceived as a "Tyson town." Also, Newman and Lewis have a long and bitter history dating back to Lewis' rivalry with former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, whom Newman managed.
But if Washington didn't have the right Lewis connections, it appeared that Memphis may with a small-time local promoter who has been working to bring the fight to Memphis.
Brian Young has long-time connections to Lewis' promoter, Main Events. He said he got his start in boxing doing volunteer work for Main Events for the Evander Holyfield-Bert Cooper heavyweight title fight in Atlanta in 1991 and also worked as a strength and conditioning coach for some of its fighters, such as heavyweight David Tua.
"I owe a lot to Main Events," Young said. "They helped me get started. Dan Duva [late president of Main Events] was kind of a mentor to me, and I learned a lot from him."
There may be another lesson to be learned, though, from another promoter. King has been working to offer a pay-per-view fight against Byrd, Lewis' IBF mandatory challenger, as part of a major heavyweight card that also would include World Boxing Association heavyweight champion John Ruiz defending his title against the WBA mandatory challenger, Kirk Johnson, as well as former heavyweight champions Evander Holyfield and Baltimore's Hasim Rahman facing each other, sources said.
King would not address questions about that possible card last night, saying with a laugh, "The fish who keeps his mouth shut never gets caught."
However, King did reveal for the first time that he is working on a book and a documentary about his life.
"I felt it was time for me to define myself," he said. "So many other people have tried to define me and failed. This will be an accurate portrayal. I will tell it like it is because the people want to know. It will be about my trials and tribulations."
Many of those trials and tribulations involve Tyson, who is suing King, his former promoter, for $100million, charging fraud and theft. Tyson has vowed that he would never be part of a fight that King promoted, and King is hoping to put Tyson in a position to force him to drop the lawsuit if he wants a fight against either of the only two opponents that would present Tyson with a large pay-per-view purse, Lewis or Holyfield.
"I have no problem with Mike Tyson," King said. "He has a problem with me only because of the people he has been listening to."


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