Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Holyfield sets sights on Toney

Promoters' demands nix Jones as foe

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - At age 40, Evander Holyfield is making a personal declaration of independence, a statement that he won't let his career be controlled by promoters.

So when Don King demanded future options as Holyfield's price for a fight with WBA champ Roy Jones Jr., the four-time heavyweight champion took an Oct. 4 heavyweight match with IBF cruiserweight champ James Toney.

The fight, which will be shown pay-per-view on Showtime, does not have a site yet and won't do much for Holyfield's goal of holding boxing's most glamorous title again. But he'll remain a free agent.

"I don't feel I should have to sign long term for a title fight," Holyfield said. "I'd love to fight Roy Jones. The most important thing, though, is that I get treated fair. I'm not going to let somebody abuse me. ... I will not be taken advantage of."

According to Jim Thomas, Holyfield's longtime adviser, the former champ was offered $8 million to fight Jones, who would have received $16 million. "That's $24 million out of a $44 million net based on 1.2 million pay-per-view buys," he said. "That leaves another $20 million. Where does that go?"

Thomas said Holyfield would get less for fighting Toney but that the payday was fair.

Holyfield wants to leave boxing as the undisputed heavyweight champion, but he lost a bid for the IBF title to Chris Byrd in December. Lennox Lewis owns the WBC title and, according to Thomas, has no great desire to fight Holyfield a third time. Jones holds the WBA crown and, with King in charge of his first defense, Holyfield's prospects with him seem slim.

LEWIS VS. KLITSCHKO: Saturday's title fight between Lewis and Vitali Klitschko earned the highest boxing rating for HBO Sports in four years, and the highest rating for a heavyweight bout on the network since 1997.

Lewis' victory over Klitschko was watched in 4.6 million homes, translating to a 13.4 HBO rating. That was the best rating since Oscar De La Hoya stopped Oba Carr in the 11th round of a WBC welterweight title bout on May 22, 1999, that earned a 14.6 rating.

It was also the highest rating for a heavyweight fight since Shannon Briggs' defeat of George Foreman on Nov. 22, 1997, earned a 14.9.

The rating is from the percentage of homes subscribed to HBO.

Klitschko won't be able to fight again until late this year, at the earliest, but that didn't stop him from lobbying for a rematch.

"I want a rematch and the rematch would be much bigger (for Lewis) than Roy Jones," Klitschko said. "I hope (my) next fight will be against Lewis."

Klitschko repeated his belief that Saturday's fight shouldn't have been stopped at the end of the sixth round because of a bad cut over his left eye.

"I could see well. That's why I'm disappointed in the decision," he said during a conference call Tuesday. "... This decision gives a big present to Lennox Lewis."

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Holyfield sets sights on Toney

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Wednesday's sports on TV, radio