NEW YORK — The heavyweight title match between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis may be back on track following Tuesday’s 3-0 vote to grant Tyson a license by the Washington, D.C., Boxing and Wrestling Commission.
Promoters for Tyson and Lewis are negotiating with Washington’s MCI Center for a June 8 pay-per-view event. Match would be the first one jointly sponsored by the competing pay TV networks HBO, which represents Lewis, and Showtime, which represents Tyson.
But the bout is contingent on MCI and local entrepreneurs coming up with a guaranteed $12.5 million to the promoters. That’s the figure the MGM Grand in Las Vegas had settled on before the state athletic commission of Nevada last month prohibited the fight, citing a brawl by Tyson at a news conference in New York in January as the reason for removing his license.
Detroit and Memphis also have made offers for the fight because Michigan and Tennessee have granted Tyson a boxing license. Such foreign cities as Madrid, Manila, Johannesburg, Copenhagen and Beirut have contacted the promoters as well. But the general consensus is that the principals are leaning toward Washington.
Both sides want the fight to take place because each fighter is guaranteed a purse of $17.5 million. And the long buildup could result in a PPV buy rate approaching the previous record of $99.6 million harvested by the second Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight on June 28, 1997.