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Holyfield Bout May Be Rescheduled

July 14, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ A major hurdle in the rescheduling of Evander Holyfield’s title defense against Henry Akinwande has been cleared, meaning the fight could be back on after being canceled in June, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today.

Akinwande tested positive for the hepatitis B virus on June 5, a day before the two fighters were to square off for Holyfield’s WBA and IBF championships.

But Akinwande’s most recent blood test showed the residual strain of the virus in his system is noninfectious, the newspaper said.

``We have a situation where it has become more likely than not that this fight will go forward as soon as it’s practicable,″ said Jim Thomas, Holyfield’s attorney.

A potential make-up date of Aug. 29 at Madison Square Garden, the site of the original fight, has been scheduled by fight promoter Don King and Showtime executive Jay Larkin.

But Akinwande can still be denied a license by the New York State Athletic Commission, since the virus still is detectable in his blood. A positive test can occur even after a person recovers.

Madison Square Garden also has rights of first refusal on any dates, and managers there are not enthusiastic about a make-up since the first fight was not financially successful.

The paper also reported that an alternative site and date would be Las Vegas on Sept. 5.

Holyfield, who lives in metropolitan Atlanta, received an offer from HBO for $20 million to fight Lennox Lewis and unify the heavyweight belts since the Akinwande fight was called off.

But Holyfield said he wouldn’t commit to that date _ proposed for December _ until the Akinwande situation was settled.

``I have to listen to my body,″ Holyfield said, adding he would prefer to fight Lewis in the spring.

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