Originally created 11/14/97

Holyfield won't commit to retirement



LAS VEGAS -- Evander Holyfield backed away a bit Thursday from his plan to retire after a heavyweight title unification fight with Lennox Lewis, and left open the possibility of a third fight with Mike Tyson.

Holyfield refused to commit himself to retirement following a possible fight in late April or early May against Lewis, although he said, "In my mind I think it will be over."

"It's too early to say what I'll do," Holyfield said. "You can never say what might happen."

Holyfield, who had previously said he had no interest in fighting Tyson again, conceded that a fight could take place if he is still fighting and if Tyson is reinstated by Nevada boxing officials.

The 35-year-old champion had talked about retiring if he unifies the three major parts of the heavyweight title in a fight against Lewis, who holds the WBC version of the title.

That, however, was before his performance Saturday night when he knocked down Michael Moorer five times before the fight was finally stopped at the end of the eighth round. The win added the IBF title to the WBA crown that Holyfield won in his first fight from Tyson.

Tyson had his boxing license revoked by Nevada officials after biting Holyfield's ears in their rematch, and will not be able to reapply to box again until the first week of July.

If Tyson is reinstated, Holyfield could, in theory, fight him sometime around September of next year in another huge money fight.

"I truly believe I've earned the right to get the last word in who I fight," Holyfield said in a conference call from Atlanta.

First, though, Holyfield's focus is on Lewis, who was at ringside for the Moorer fight. Holyfield's attorney Jim Thomas said he talked to promoter Don King earlier Thursday and said negotiations could heat up next week for a possible late April or early May fight.

The talks will be complicated by the fact both boxers have different promoters and are tied to different television networks. But both want to fight each other, and all involved expressed confidence the fight could be made.

"Lewis is the fight I want. I look forward to unifying the belts," Holyfield said. "I'm hoping all the contracts can be worked out."

Thomas said he believed the differences between the two camps could be resolved and they would fight for the undisputed heavyweight title for the first time since Riddick Bowe beat Holyfield in 1992.

"There are always a lot of obstacles," Thomas said. "But the most important element is the two fighters really want to fight each other."

Holyfield was on the conference call to promote the replay of the Moorer fight, which will be televised on the Showtime cable network at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.

The fight was televised on payper-view and was bought by an estimated 700,000 homes Saturday night, Showtime executive producer Jay Larkin said.

Larkin said the replay would be a "very compact, very clean" 90minute show, in contrast to the live card that ran so long that the main event didn't start until about 10 p.m., or 1 a.m. in the East.

"That was inexcusable and unacceptable," Larkin said. "A consumer should not have to wait until 1 a.m. to see a main event, certainly not one as exciting as this one was."