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Holyfield Signs To Fight Lewis

October 15, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Evander Holyfield signed a contract with promoter Don King Thursday for a heavyweight championship unification fight with Lennox Lewis of Britain.

``Now we will see if Lewis wants to fight,″ said Jim Thomas, Holyfield’s attorney.

Lewis and his manager, Frank Maloney, have on several occasion accused Holyfield of ducking Lewis.

Thomas said he and the WBA-IBF champion signed a contract after a four-hour meeting with King. He also said that following the signing, King called Panos Eliades, Lewis’ British promoter, and Maloney and they told him ``send us a contract and we’ll sign.″

``Don still needs to reach final agreement with HBO,″ Thomas added. HBO has an exclusive agreement with Lewis and would show the fight on TVKO, its pay-per-view arm.

Thomas said the fight would be held in the second half of February or the first half of March at a site to be determined. He said King already has received several offers.

Thomas said Holyfield’s purse would be in the neighborhood of $20 million. Maloney has said that Lewis would get $8 million.

Holyfield made an IBF mandatory title defense by outpointing Vaughn Bean Sept. 19 in his hometown of Atlanta. He was supposed to make a WBA mandatory defense against Henry Akinwande of Britain June 6 in Madison Square Garden, but the fight was called off after Akinwande tested positive for hepatitis B. Thomas said Akinwande still is not available to fight.

Lewis made a WBC mandatory title defense by outpointing Zeljko Mavrovic of Croatia Sept. 26 at Uncasville, Conn.

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