Doubts about title fight resolved


The doubts surrounding the world title fight between Ireland's Wayne McCullough and Britain's Naseem Hamed next weekend in Atlantic City were resolved over the weekend when a different promoter Cedric Krushner stepped in to take over the event.

After proceedings in a London High Court on Friday there was, according to a lawyer close to the negotiations "only a 50-50 chance of the fight going ahead" because of a complex dispute involving television backers Home Box Office (HBO), promoters Frank Warren and Don King and casino owners.

A previously unknown lawyer from Utah, Richard Lawrence, was the original promoter of the event through a company Sport International but over the weekend stepped aside once the legal machinations went into full swing. The legal dispute was initiated by lawyers acting for promoter Don King who alleged that Frank Warren was the de facto promoter of the event rather than Lawrence. King and Warren have been involved in a long running multi-million dollar dispute which is set to be heard in court early next year.

McCullough's wife and current manager, Sheryl, yesterday confirmed that there was considerable doubt last week about the fight proceeding but that the problems have now been fully resolved.

"On Friday, yes, there was only a 50-50 chance of the fight going ahead but the New York based promoter Cedric Krushner has now taken it over," she said. "Krushner has guaranteed the purse and there is now no problem. Wayne is happy HBO are happy, everyone is happy now. We are flying to Atlantic City today (Monday) for the fight and all parties concerned are pleased about the new arrangements."

Meanwhile, Hamed was grounded for another night in London over a visa problem which is disrupting his countdown to Saturday's title defence.

The WBO featherweight champion was hoping that the necessary paperwork would be completed at the United States Embassy in time for him to catch last night's 7.00 p.m. Concord flight from Heathrow.

But Hamed did not obtain the visa and is now looking to be on board the corresponding flight tonight.

He was due in New York yesterday to attend a memorabilia presentation at the All Star Cafe on Broadway, then move on to deliver "treats to the kids" at St Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

It would appear inconceivable that such a hitch should arise over a necessary and straightforward item. Boxers need visas every time they box in the United States.

"It's cutting it a bit fine," said senior trainer Brendan Ingle. "As far as I'm concerned he was due to come out at the weekend."