Heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman of Baltimore, trying to avoid a pending lawsuit filed by Lennox Lewis, said he called Lewis on Sunday and yesterday in an attempt to negotiate a deal, the fighter said yesterday.
"I called him, and I talked to him for five to 10 minutes today on the phone. I said, 'Let's fight in the ring, not the courtroom.' He said that's also what he wants to do," Rahman said. "We're not enemies. I said, 'Come on down, let's work out where we're going to fight. I want to fight this August fight and then you're next.' "
Rahman's co-manager, Steve Nelson, said he and Rahman's promoter, Don King, called the ex-champion on Sunday.
"We told them [Lewis' people] to come to New York this week, meet with us; we'll have all of our people and let's put a deal together," Nelson said. "Realistically, we'd be talking October, November, which is not a material change in the agreement."
Rahman earned the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles by knocking out Lewis in the fifth round on April 21. At Saturday's WBC convention in Miami, Rahman was given its belt by WBC president Jose Sulaiman.
Rahman, King and his management are to stand trial on June 11 in the U.S. District Court in New York, facing separate lawsuits by Lewis and Rahman's former promoter, Cedric Kushner. Rahman's contract to fight Lewis included a rematch clause calling for a return bout within 150 days, but allowed Rahman an interim fight as long as it did not take place within 60 days of the rematch. Kushner contends that he still has a valid contract with Rahman.
In signing with King for a four-fight deal worth $75 million if he won the bouts, Rah- man would face Brian Nielsen in Beijing Aug. 4 on the undercard of John Ruiz's World Boxing Association defense vs. Evander Holyfield; the Ruiz-Holyfield winner; a Lewis rematch; and Mike Tyson, the WBC's No. 1 ranked, mandatory challenger.
"The WBC ... won't force us to defend immediately against Tyson. We have until Nov. 11 to try to make a deal with Mike Tyson," Nelson said.