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BOXING

Staples Makes Pitch for Lewis-Tyson Bout

January 19, 2002|STEVE SPRINGER

Staples Center has thrown its ring into the hat.

With an announcement on the April 6 heavyweight title fight between champion Lennox Lewis and challenger Mike Tyson planned for Tuesday, promoters are still working on a site.

Gary Shaw, Lewis' promoter, met earlier this week with Staples Center president Tim Leiweke, who has expressed serious interest in the bout.

How interested the Lewis-Tyson promoters are in Staples remains to be seen. MGM Grand and the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas are believed to be the front-runners, and New York's Madison Square Garden is also expected to become a contender.

Usually, it comes down to money. And with the site fee expected to exceed $10 million, it would seem Las Vegas officials have the money to outbid Staples.

The Los Angeles arena put up $5.5 million to land the 2000 bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley and wound up only a little over the break-even point.

But there are other factors involved.

There is an ongoing investigation by Las Vegas law-enforcement officials of an alleged sexual assault by Tyson in his Las Vegas home last September.

If that investigation yields enough evidence to warrant charges, Tyson might not be able to get a boxing license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, despite the millions of dollars his appearance in the ring could bring into the state.

Depending on the seriousness of the charges, Tyson might have just as much difficulty getting a license in California or New York. But the fight promoters obviously want to leave themselves as many alternatives as possible.

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Broadcast Wars

The rights to the pay-per-view telecast are also up for grabs. HBO has the rights to Lewis' fights; Tyson is tied to the Showtime cable network.

Showtime executive Jay Larkin once said, "Pork chops will grow on palm trees in Tel Aviv before we will let Mike Tyson fight on HBO."

Well, start inspecting those branches because it might happen.

Under a plan being negotiated, the Lewis-Tyson fight would be shown on a third pay-per-view outlet with a third announcing team. The fight would be reshown the next week on the cable network of the winner, with the losing network getting $3 million to ease its loss.

There have also been negotiations for a rematch. Rematch? With the trouble-prone Tyson, whose second wife, Monica Turner, filed for divorce this week, there is no guarantee there'll be a first fight even after the contracts have been signed.

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Too Expensive

Christy Martin and Mia St. John, the two most recognizable female fighters, are attempting to finally step into the ring against each other.

It is certainly the most attractive female match out there. But for it to happen, the women have to lower their asking price. They are seeking half a million dollars each.

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Too Dangerous

Former pro football lineman William "the Refrigerator" Perry has backed out of his planned match against Eric "Butterbean" Esch. Former King goon Marty McSorley was once in line for a Butterbean fight as well, but he too changed his mind.

Since he obviously doesn't want to fight any real boxers, who else is out there for Butterbean's traveling circus?

How about Dennis Rodman? Talk about a perfect fit.

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Kid Glove Treatment

Although De La Hoya left promoter Bob Arum to sign with Jerry Perenchio, head of the Univision Spanish language network, Arum, who continues to do business with Perenchio, refuses to speak ill of him.

At Wednesday's news conference at the Biltmore Hotel to hype De La Hoya's May 4 title fight against Fernando Vargas, Arum, in his first public appearance with De La Hoya since they rejoined forces, was asked about Perenchio.

"If he wasn't running one of the biggest media companies in the world," Arum said, "he would have continued to do a tremendous job with Oscar. He is one of the brightest and most creative people I have ever met.

"With all due to respect to Oscar, if Jerry wants to trade places and give me his company and his stock, I will be glad to do it."

Added De La Hoya, "As long as he makes me a partner."

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Quick Jabs

Showtime presents a tape-delayed boxing doubleheader tonight. At 6 p.m., from the Miami Jai-Alai Fronton, World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight champion DeMarcus Corley (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) will defend his title against No. 1 contender Ener Julio (21-3, 16). Also, World Boxing Assn. Junior-flyweight champion Rosendo Alvarez (30-2-1, 19) will defend against No. 1 contender Pitchit Siriwat (25-1, 12).

At 10 p.m. from London's York Hall, four-time world champion Johnny Tapia (50-2-2, 27) fights a nontitle bout against Eduardo Alvarez (29-4, 6). On the same card, WBO featherweight titleholder Julio Pablo Chacon (42-2, 31) faces No. 8 contender Victor Polo (30-3-2, 22).

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