Don King testified Wednesday at a civil trial about honor and duty and questioned whether heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis had enough of either to retain his WBA title.
"The deal is the deal. Fight or vacate with honor," is how the boxing promoter recalled the essence of the agreement he thought was made by Lewis to fight the top contender this fall for the WBA title or relinquish it.
King was testifying in the suit filed against him by Lewis. The lawsuit says the promoter could not block the WBA from permitting Lewis to fight someone other than its No. 1 contender.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, hearing the case in Manhattan without a jury, must decide whether a contract signed by Lewis required the champion to fight someone other than Michael Grant, his foe in a match slated for April 29 in New York.
The WBA had told Lewis he must fight the top contender, Johnny Ruiz, in his next mandatory defense before taking other fights. Later, the WBA agreed he could instead fight Grant.
Grant (35-1-1) is ranked No. 5 by the WBA, and No. 2 by the WBC and the IBF. Besides being ranked No. 1 by the WBA, Ruiz (36-3) is the WBC's No. 1 contender. He is No. 4 in the IBF ratings.
King testified late Wednesday that Lewis had a duty to fight Ruiz, the top contender, by May 13, a half year after he won the title from Evander Holyfield.
"These guys are really trying to misuse and abuse the rules," King said of Lewis and his handlers.
He said boxing champions sometimes think they can bend the rules and everyone will go along with it because they are champions.
In deposition testimony read into the record and verified by King as he sat on the witness stand, King took the high road, telling lawyers: "I'm a promoter. I am representing law and order, because without law and order, you have nothing. You have chaos."
He later testified Wednesday that he was not able to promote the next Lewis bout.
"They didn't want me in the loop as a promoter," he said.
Outside court, King claimed those handling Lewis were "trying desperately" to keep him out of the loop.
Lewis had been mentioned as a possible witness in the case, but he was not called to testify by his lawyers. They said he could still be called as a rebuttal witness.
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