With three states now bidding for the rights for the proposed June 8 Mike
Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight, Home Box Office and Showtime hope to secure a site
deal this coming week that will finalize the pay-per-view mega-bout.
The Washington, D.C., Wrestling and Boxing Commission unanimously voted to
grant Tyson a boxing license, joining Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta in the
sweepstakes to host potentially the most lucrative fight in PPV history.
Fight co-promoters HBO and Showtime Event Television were forced to seek
other venues for the fight -- initially scheduled for April 6 in Las Vegas --
after the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to grant Tyson a license due to his
checkered past both in and out of the ring.
Executives from both parties said no clear-cut leader had emerged from the
pack, but a deal would almost have to be completed this week in order for the
fight to take place in June.
'We have a lot of issues to discuss, but hopefully, we can make it happen
June 8,' HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said. 'Tyson is licensed in three
states, so we have to see which one works best for the fight.'
SET executives would only say that the network is 'delighted' at the decision
by Washington to license Tyson, adding that it hopes to make a site announcement
Greenburg said HBO is still very interested in making the event despite
published reports that said the network is gun-shy about its role after a brawl
between Tyson and Lewis during a Jan. 22 press conference to announce the
Lewis has also sent mixed signals in recent weeks as to whether he still
wants to fight Tyson.
'HBO is trying to make the fight happen -- there's nothing but a directive to
get the fight done, and we're heading in that direction,' Greenburg said.
Despite the controversy and delay, the industry is still anxiously awaiting
the bout. It could supply a major boost to the PPV-boxing category, which
generated just $93 million in 2001.