New York A fight between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis is in the works, although TV and boxing executives warned the deal wasn't done.
Rival cable networks holding rights for Tyson and Lewis' bouts are negotiating, and Jay Larkin of Showtime said Tuesday that chances for an agreement by the end of the year were 50-50. He refused to characterize the two sides as "close" to a deal.
"You're not close until you're done," said Larkin, senior vice president and executive producer of Showtime, which televises Tyson's fights. "Unless papers are signed, it doesn't matter how close you are."
Shelly Finkel, who manages Tyson, agreed with Larkin's assessment about a fight between the two former heavyweight champions.
"There's nothing until we have a deal and right now we don't have a deal," Finkel said. "We're talking seriously and we're looking for something before the end of the year, but there are so many contingencies. I thought we were close a month ago and it didn't happen."
Late Monday, Lewis' camp distributed a news release from London announcing that Showtime and HBO, which holds Lewis' rights, had agreed to two fights, the first on Dec. 8.
"That press release was, at its most generous, premature," Larkin said.
Ray Stallone, a spokesman for HBO, refused comment on the release.