Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson have just over two weeks to agree terms for their proposed WBC and IBF heavyweight title fight on April 6 or promotional rights for the bout will go to the highest bidder.
Both camps have hinted that negotiations are going well but any last-minute hitches could well open the door for controversial promoter Don King to muscle in on the action.
WBC president Jose Sulaiman said: ‘‘The WBC ratifies Mike Tyson as the official challenger for heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis.
‘‘The period for free negotiations for the fight ends on January 8, and if no agreement is reached, a public purse offer will be held on January 24 at noon in the WBC Executive Offices in Mexico City.’’
King has already tried to entice Tyson away from a showdown with Lewis by offering him over £10m to take on WBA champion John Ruiz.
‘‘I am a believer that Lennox Lewis is the baddest man on the planet,’’ King told the Las Vegas Journal. ‘‘He’s punching sharp and clean and hitting harder than ever.
‘‘For Tyson to go into the ring with him now would be a kamikaze move. Mike Tyson don’t need to do no kamikaze.
‘‘He can fight some of these guys, make millions and millions of dollars, get a title and then hit the jackpot against Lennox. Then he will be more prepared for him.’’
Sulaiman, however, is convinced that a Lewis-Tyson clash already has the makings of a classic encounter.
He added: ‘‘The Lewis-Tyson fight will be between two of the greatest boxers of the second half of the 20th century.
‘‘I think that Lewis and Tyson will fight with dignity and honour, and their fight will have a place in boxing history.’’