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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 14:44 GMT
The heavyweight players
Don King (L) with Vitali Klitschko after he defeated Larry Donald of USA
Vitali Klitschko - next for Lennox Lewis?

If anyone doubted that boxing's heavyweight division is a mess, the on/off saga of Saturday's fight with between Mike Tyson and Clifford Etienne should set them straight.

Such is Tyson's apparent draw, however, the sport apparently cannot do without him.

But with so many fighters going for so many titles, the division has never been more difficult to understand.

So here, in the opinion of BBC Sport, is a list of the fighters, the promoters and the venues which rule sport's richest prize.


Lennox Lewis

No longer the undisputed heavyweight champion, Lewis is still regarded as the best in the world and will be until he retires or is beaten.

The 37-year-old is the WBC champion but it remains to be seen whether he will fight this year - he may yet be ordered by the WBC to fight Vitali Klitschko, the ruling body's mandatory contender.


Don King

Even at the age of 70, the promoter's ability to put himself in a position where he can call the shots in the heavyweight division remains undiminished.

Last year, he paid Lewis a large sum of money to give up the IBF heavyweight crown, knowing that the vacant belt would be contested by Chris Byrd and Evander Holyfield, both contracted to King.

With John Ruiz, the WBA champion, also in his camp, King probably will not rest until his long term ambition of signing Lewis to his stable is realised.


The Klitschkos

The Ukrainian brothers Wladimir and Vitali come as a package - the pair have agreed never to fight each other because it would upset their mother.

At present, Wladimir is the WBO champion, a belt which has little worth in the United States, the market that he and his brother wish to conquer.

Vitali, who used to hold the title, is a top ranked contender who is seeking a bout with Lewis.

Of the two, Wladimir is the more polished boxer, while the older Vitali has knockout power in both hands, something Herbie Hide can attest to, having been stopped in two rounds by him in 1999.


Mike Tyson

Amazingly, a man who has suffered three brutal beatings - Lewis, Evander Holyfield and James Buster Douglas all battered Tyson - still has something to offer the division.

But not for much longer if the on/off saga of Saturday's fight with Clifford Etienne becomes the norm.

The 36-year-old is essentially a washed-up fighter with slow reflexes, questionable dedication and an unclear mind.

But Tyson needs boxing for the money and boxing needs his name.

Another beating, like the one Lewis administered to him, could and should spell the end for him.


Roy Jones Jr

Roy Jones Jr, light heavyweight champion scheduled to challenge WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz
Is Jones Jr the joker in the pack?
The light heavyweight champion first talked about a fight with a heavyweight in 1996 - seven years on, his debut in the division is a belated one.

He meets WBA champ Ruiz on 1 March and could win.

Renowned as the best boxer in the world at any weight, Jones Jr's speed and flashy style could make him a very popular and welcome addition to the division.


And the rest

Ruiz, the WBA champion, is best known for a trilogy of fights with Evander Holyfield, with each more boring than the last - he lacks the skill or charisma to become a big name.

Byrd, the IBF heavyweight champion, will fight the winner of Ruiz-Jones Jr.

A tricky southpaw who makes everyone look bad, Byrd struggles to find opponents who want to fight him and his conservative life away from the ring make him a hard sell.

New Zealander David Tua is a contender again thanks to two good wins last year, while Holyfield, even at the age of 40, can still draw a sizeable crowd.

See also:

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