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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 02:29 GMT
Lewis sues Tyson
Lennox Lewis
Lewis regained his heavyweight titles last month
World heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has filed a lawsuit to stop Mike Tyson fighting on 19 January.

Lewis has also requested that the WBC remove Tyson from the mandatory challenger's position if he does fight.

"Iron Mike" is scheduled to fight Ray Mercer next month, probably at Atlantic City, New Jersey before being expected to take on Lewis in the spring.

But the lawsuit contends that the Mercer clash could hurt Lewis financially if such a contest goes ahead.

The suit, which also names the WBC as a defendant, was filed in US District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Tyson replied in a statement the following day that he was "outraged by Lennox's attempt to interfere with my career."

"I stepped aside as the WBC challenger in November to allow the rematch with Rahman.

Mike Tyson in action earlier this year
Tyson is set to face Ray Mercer next month
"Lennox makes his own rules only when they suit him."

Lewis, who regained the WBC-IBF heavyweight titles by knocking out Hasim Rahman on last month, is supposed to face Tyson in April, although that fight is not yet signed.

A mandatory defence of the WBC title had been scheduled for November, but a federal judge ruled that Rahman, who knocked out Lewis on 22 April, must fight the British-born boxer again before he fought anyone else.

The suit states that the WBC entered into an agreement with Tyson that allows him to engage in a 19 January bout against an opponent other than Lewis.

But the same agreement bars Lewis from fighting anybody before he faces Tyson.

"If Tyson fights on 19 January and is permitted to remain the mandatory challenger, it will be impossible successfully to promote a timely championship bout that will maximize revenues - especially if Tyson is injured in the Jan. 19 bout," the suit states.

A Lewis-Tyson clash should be worth at least $20m to each fighter unless the fight went to purse bids.

See also:

02 Dec 01 |  Boxing
Mercer plots Tyson shock
18 Nov 01 |  Boxing
Super Lennox stops Rahman
14 Oct 01 |  Boxing
Brutal Tyson wins in seven
25 Nov 01 |  Boxing
Tyson wants Lewis 'tomorrow'
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