Sunday, March 2, 2003

Tyson to Lewis: Stay away from King

By Tim Dahlberg
The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis won't fight right away. When they do, Tyson doesn't want Don King in the way.

Tyson issued a statement Friday warning Lewis to stay away from King if he wants another bout with the former heavyweight champion.

"Lennox and I don't need Don King to conduct our business," Tyson said.

The unusual statement from Tyson came as Lewis was in Las Vegas for Saturday's fight between Roy Jones Jr. and John Ruiz. King is promoting the fight, and he is trying to get Lewis to sign a contract to allow him to promote Lewis the rest of his career.

Lewis hasn't fought since beating Tyson in June, and he pulled out of a match with No. 1 WBC contender Vitali Klitschko so he could fight a rematch with Tyson this summer.

But Tyson said after knocking out Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds last weekend that he needed one or two more fights before taking on Lewis.

"I'm not going to lie to myself and lie to the public," Tyson said after stopping Etienne. "I need more fights. I'm not interested in getting beat up again."

Tyson has said all along he won't fight in any King promotion while he is suing the promoter in New York for allegedly stealing more than $100 million from him in purses after his release from prison in 1995.

The suit has yet to be heard, but Tyson and his handlers believe King is trying to get in a position where Tyson would need him as a promoter and would drop the suit in exchange for that.

"This is about my lawsuit against Don King and his pathetic attempt to settle his debt without getting into court," Tyson said.

Lewis seemed tempted in December to sign with King as the two of them appeared together at a press gathering in Atlantic City, N.J. He reportedly is unhappy with his own management and split last year from promoter Main Events.

But Lewis is also wary of King and has said previously that he didn't need the promoter to help him.

With Tyson balking at a June fight, though, Lewis now has to look elsewhere for a fight. That probably would be against Klitschko, who has sued the WBC in an attempt to enforce his rights to a fight with the champion.

"That's his mandatory - he doesn't have much of a choice," said Lewis' trainer and adviser, Emanuel Steward. "I just don't see Mike wanting to fight Lennox. I think Lennox has to make a decision on his plans past Mike Tyson."

Tyson's manager, Shelly Finkel, though, said he believes Lewis and Tyson will fight, but only after Tyson has one or two more bouts.

Finkel wants Tyson to fight again in May or June, but Tyson is notoriously fickle about his plans, as evidenced by the on-again, off-again fight with Etienne.

Tyson urged Lewis to stay away from King for his own good.

"Lennox is smart enough not to fall for Don King's mind games and promises of fool's gold," Tyson said.

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