posted on Jul, 8 2003 @ 03:01 PM
Daily News, New York - July 8, 2003
NEW YORK - After months of harsh, and failed, negotiations with some of his high-profile clients and former clients, boxing promoter Don King broke
his silence and came out verbally swinging on Thursday.
In a wide-ranging interview, King took shots at Lennox Lewis and the heavyweight champ's lawyer, Judd Burstein, former heavyweight champ Evander
Holyfield and his lawyer, Jim Thomas, and middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins.
Holyfield and Hopkins have backed away from multimillion-dollar fight deals that King was trying to negotiate for them, leaving the promoter steaming
mad and his business hurting.
Lewis is suing King and Mike Tyson, alleging breach of contract and improper interference and seeking $365 million in damages. Lewis obtained a
temporary injunction that stopped King from negotiating with Tyson to settle their $100 million lawsuits against each other.
King has filed a $50 million countersuit against Lewis, whom he recently worked with on two fights with Holyfield and Lewis' rematch with Hasim
Rahman. King claims Lewis' lawsuit has kept him from collecting lucrative license fees from HBO on boxing matches he has already delivered - and in
effect seeks to drive him out of business.
"What they (Lewis and Burstein) have done is despicable and reprehensible," King said. "It has interfered with my settlement talks with Tyson. I have
never mentioned any other fights at all in those settlement talks, as they have claimed.
"I'm hurt and humiliated that Lewis would prostitute his name with that shyster lawyer. Everything Burstein has claimed has been fabricated.
"I've helped Lennox make $60 million, gave him $1 million and a Range Rover and he doesn't have the decency to call me and ask me if anything his
lawyer has claimed is true."
Despite the dueling lawsuits, King and Lewis will have to deal with each other if Lewis decides to meet WBA heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. on Dec. 6.
King is Jones' co-promoter.
King is equally upset with Holyfield and Thomas for backing out of a proposed fight with Jones. While announcing last week that he will fight IBF
cruiserweight champ James Toney, Holyfield said he backed out of the deal to fight Jones because King had asked him to sign a new promotional
agreement and he didn't want to be taken advantage of.
"In the years that I worked with Evander Holyfield he made $126.8 million, an average of $11.5 million a fight," King said. "Does that sound like
someone who was being taken advantage of?
"I don't know what he's talking about. I didn't ask him to sign a new contract. That's not true. He's a 41-year-old former champion at the end of his
"Here's a man who is four-time world champion because of me. What does he gain by fighting James Toney? If he beats him, so what? If he loses, then
his career is over."
Thomas, in an open letter to the media earlier this week, said King still owed Holyfield $2 million from his fight against Chris Byrd last year and
was trying to fold that money into the purse for Jones. King said he paid a $1 million promissory note on the $2 million and was still negotiating for
the Jones fight when Thomas halted the talks two weeks ago.
"If he had taken the Roy Jones fight we would have put that $2 million on top of $10 million, given him $15 million minimum for the return fight and
then another $10 million for his next fight," King said. "That's $37 million for three fights. Where is he going to get that now?"
In his letter, Thomas said the promoters stood to split $20 million, giving them more than they offered Holyfield. King responded that Thomas had
based his calculations on fictitious numbers.