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HOLYFIELD-LEWIS FIGHT THWARTED IN NEGOTIATIONS

Attempts to unify the heavyweight title for the first time since 1992 were thwarted again when talks between Evander Holyfield and HBO broke down early Tuesday.

Hopes for unification rose Monday when the promoter for WBC champion Lennox Lewis said a $50 million deal had been struck and the fight had been scheduled for April 25 in Las Vegas, Nev.

But talks hit a snag when HBO, the network that has exclusive rights to Lewis' fights, and Holyfield's camp could not agree on how much money Holyfield, the WBA and IBF champion, would be guaranteed.

According to the New York Daily News, the blame fell at the feet of Holyfield promoter Don King.

Dino Duva, Lewis' American promoter, told the Daily News, "The bottom line is that King didn't want Holyfield-Lewis, not if he couldn't get a guaranteed $5 million profit for himself."

HBO guaranteed Holyfield 650,000 pay-per-view buys and all of the profits above that mark, but Holyfield wanted a 1 million buy guarantee, said Lou DiBella, the senior vice president for programming at Time Warner Sports, the pay-per-view arm of HBO.

"We obviously had a great difference of opinion on what the appropriate guarantee for the fight was," DiBella said.

Holyfield's lawyer, Jim Thomas, wanted Holyfield to be guaranteed at least as much money as he made for his fight against Michael Moorer. According to Nevada boxing records, Holyfield made $20 million for the November fight.

A Holyfield-Lewis showdown would have been a logical move for a heavyweight division going through a rocky stretch. And both boxers have said they want to fight each other.

The heavyweight title has not been unified since Riddick Bowe was stripped of the WBC title in 1992 for refusing to fight Lewis.

Lewis's next fight probably will be a mandatory defense against Croatia's Zeljko Mavrovic in London in June. Holyfield is to make mandatory defenses against Henry Akinwande and Vaughn Bean.

Elsewhere, boxing commissioner Larry Hazzard was cleared of accusations that he fixed last month's bout in which George Foreman lost to Shannon Briggs. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement dismissed a complaint from Foreman promoters Irving Azoff and Jeffrey Wald.

Division director Frank Catania said there was no merit to the claims that Hazzard conspired with two judges to give Briggs the 12-round decision in the Nov. 22 heavyweight bout.

Foreman dominated the fight, and Briggs appeared surprised when he was declared the winner. Many in the crowd of 5,220 at Trump Taj Mahal jeered the announcement.

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