The first casualty of the 1999 pay-per-view boxing schedule
occurred last week with the postponement of the Jan. 23 George Foreman-Larry Holmes event.
Due to the fight's close proximity to the Jan. 16 Mike
Tyson-Frans Botha bout -- and, sources said, to the event's financial problems --
Forman-Holmes promoter Boxing Intentional postponed the event until sometime in late
February or early March.
Viewer's Choice notified operators late last Tuesday
about the postponement of the fight, which would have pitted two of the great heavyweight
champions of the last 20 years against each other.
While not directly addressing Tyson-Botha, Boxing
International said in a prepared statement that the "result of competing sporting
events" forced the postponement of Foreman-Holmes.
The fight would likely have been crushed under the
marketing and media deluge for the Tyson bout.
The fight was also plagued by financial problems, according
to sources close to the situation. The promoters struggled to obtain adequate funding,
forcing the fighters themselves to publicly question whether the fight would actually
happen. But Roger Levitt, president of Boxing International, said the fight would go on --
"Despite a number of rumors to the contrary, both
George and Larry have publicly stated recently that they are eager for the fight to happen
soon, and the public is very enthusiastic to see the legends settle a long-standing
score," Levitt said in a prepared statement.
"We have nearly completed negotiations with
Viewer's Choice, the Houston Astrodome and the fighters themselves to determine a
convenient new date -- currently Feb. 5 or March 27," Levitt added. "We will
announce the final date shortly."
Many operators, seeing the writing on the wall early, had
already begun to pull fight promotions from their schedules, despite assurances that the
event would go on as initially scheduled.
"It would have been easy to put them back on as soon
as we felt comfortable about the fight, but we were moving forward as if it were canceled
[two weeks ago]," one Midwest PPV executive said.
If it is rescheduled, the fight will still face stiff
competition from other PPV events in the first quarter. A Feb. 5 date would fall just
eight days before TVKO's Feb. 13 Oscar De La Hoya bout, and a March 27 fight would
occur two weeks after TVKO's March 13 Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis
Foreman-Holmes is also the third major PPV bout to be
postponed or canceled in the last year. A scheduled June Holyfield-Henry Akinwande bout
was called off after Akinwande contracted hepatitis B, while the De La Hoya-Ike Quartey
bout was moved to February from its initial November date due to an injury to De La Hoya.
A potential June De La Hoya bout was also nixed after the
fighter suffered an injury.