- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Mike Tyson yesterday agreed to be interviewed by the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission.
"We've reached an agreement," commissioner Michael Brown said. "They've accepted our invitation."
Momentum has been gaining for other cities to play host to a heavyweight title fight between champion Lennox Lewis and Tyson, who yesterday was cleared to box in Tennessee.
Last week, Brown told The Washington Times he expected the interview to take place privately. He said yesterday they were still negotiating the time, format and whether his appearance also would include psychological testing. Tyson is seeking a boxing license in the District for a proposed June8 bout against Lewis, targeted for MCI Center.
Detroit and Memphis have emerged recently as competitors with the District for the fight. But two figures involved in putting together the fight yesterday told The Washington Times that the District remains at the top of their list.
However, both Gary Shaw of Main Events, Lewis' American promoter, and Jay Larkin, the boxing boss at Showtime, Tyson's cable network, yesterday said the clock is ticking on several deadlines for securing a Tyson license and venue. If the deadlines are not met, the fight could be delayed or even called off.
The biggest deadline looming is the March15 date written into the original contract for Lewis-Tyson, which allows Lewis to seek other terms or pull out of the fight, industry sources said. Neither Shaw nor Larkin would discuss any contractual deadlines that could affect the future of the fight.
Larkin did acknowledge that if a boxing license for Tyson is secured elsewhere and if financing to play host to the fight is in place there, a decision to locate the fight someplace else could be made before the District commission's scheduled March12 public meeting to discuss Tyson's license application here.
"If one of these other sites comes through with a license and financing in place, one could argue that a bird in hand is a better direction to go in," Larkin said. "But that has not been discussed, and everyone is moving along toward the D.C. deadlines with all good intent."
Yesterday, Shaw said Washington "is still high on the list" as a site for the controversial fight, and that "we are hoping that Mike Tyson can get licensed in the District of Columbia."
Late last week, Detroit surfaced as a possible venue when Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel told the Detroit Free Press he was "convinced there was a pretty good chance it will happen" there.
However, Lewis has not applied in Michigan for a boxing license, which he is doing in the District.
"We are in the process of applying for a license in Washington," Shaw said.
Larkin yesterday said he believed Washington was "leading the pack. But there are serious offers from Detroit and Memphis."
The Tennessee city, which emerged as a competitor with the District over the weekend, is trying to arrange for the bout to take place at the Pyramid.
"This afternoon we received a completed application and it complies with all the appropriate Tennessee laws," Michelle Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the state's Boxing and Racing Board, said yesterday. "As of tomorrow Mr. Tyson will be granted a Tennessee professional boxer's license."
Regarding the contractual deadlines, Shaw said he "won't say what those dates are."
Another deadline the fight faces is March25, the date on which the International Boxing Federation requires Tyson to be licensed and have a venue secured. If that deadline is not met, Lewis must begin talks with the IBF's mandatory top challenger, Chris Byrd, for a title fight, or risk being stripped of the IBF version of the heavyweight championship. Lewis also holds the World Boxing Council version of the title.
Shaw also said they need time to promote the fight ideally three months beforehand, which is now.
"If [the uncertainty of the fight] went on into April, it would be hard to stage a fight like this in the first two weeks of June," he said. "This is the Super Bowl of boxing."
Larkin said there are other contract deadlines that are confidential.
"The only deadline publicly acknowledged is the one by the IBF, and that is driving the Lewis camp to get a deal done," Larkin said. "But if a site and license is in place by that deadline, we have no problem with the June8 date. If it goes beyond that, it opens up a whole new can of worms to be addressed."
Tyson and his advisers have gone on a nationwide hunt to find a jurisdiction to grant Tyson a license since Nevada turned him down on Jan.29. Tyson was denied a week after his brawl with Lewis at a New York news conference to announce the fight, which originally was scheduled for April6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Tyson has been turned down for licenses in Texas and Georgia, and 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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