Wednesday, Sept. 25, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
It was not a subject Mike Tyson or promoter Don King apparently cared to discuss, but it was one their adversaries jumped on.
Tyson, following a court order, supposedly relinquished his World Boxing Council heavyweight championship Tuesday. He retains the World Boxing Association title that he'll defend Nov. 9 at the MGM Grand Garden against Evander Holyfield.
The immediate beneficiaries of the WBC title becoming vacant are boxers Lennox Lewis and Oliver McCall, who will fight for the championship later this year or early next year. The promoter (and perhaps the date and the site) for that fight will be determined at a purse bid Thursday.
Dino Duva, who promotes Lewis, used the occasion to ridicule Tyson for not only dropping the WBC belt but failing to agree to fight Lewis (which ultimately resulted in the court order to relinquish the belt).
"We are disappointed and surprised that Tyson decided to give up the title instead of fighting Lennox," Duva said. "The heavyweight championship is one of the most valued possessions in sports. For Tyson to just throw it away like this is incredible. I thought he was a warrior. I was wrong."
Those words, however pointed, have an ulterior motive. Duva wants to position Lewis for a 1997 fight with Tyson, and goading Tyson into that fight is regarded as a legitimate tactic.
Tyson, who is currently involved in a lawsuit being heard in Albany, N.Y., has Holyfield on his immediate agenda and the winner of the International Boxing Federation title fight between Michael Moorer and Frans Botha tentatively scheduled for March. Moorer and Botha will fight for the IBF championship as part of the Tyson-Holyfield undercard Nov. 9.
The court order against Tyson was the result of Lewis winning a suit in which he claimed Tyson -- by edict of the WBC -- had to make his first defense against the WBC's No. 1 contender, which happens to be Lewis.
When Tyson fought Bruce Seldon Sept. 7, Lewis was paid $4 million in "step-aside money" and the WBC title at that time could have been considered vacated, although Tyson and King warned that they might contest that decision in court.
But based on the press releases Tuesday from Duva's New Jersey office, Tyson has now relinquished his claim to the WBC title and a purse bid for the Lewis vs. McCall bout is imminent.