Promoter says Byrd is hindering unification efforts

Updated: December 6, 2005, 7:56 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Boxing promoter Don King says in a lawsuit that his desire to unify four major heavyweight boxing titles in a television tournament was spoiled by IBF champion Chris Byrd.

Don King

In the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, King said Byrd owes him at least $1 million for breach of contract and not less than $3 million for interfering with King's business prospects.

King said the 35-year-old boxer disrupted his plan to unify the titles by refusing to participate in a tournament the promoter hoped would air on HBO or Showtime.

Four different organizations -- the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Organization, the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Association -- all have heavyweight champions.

The lawsuit accuses Byrd of refusing to participate in a bout last spring or in March 2006 against Vitali Klitschko, a Ukrainian boxer who was the WBC champion until he retired last month.

Patrick English, a lawyer for Byrd, said the allegations were not true.

"Never accept anything that Don King says as true," English said. "We see this as a grandstand play. That's all it is."

In October, Byrd defeated another of King's boxers, DaVarryl Williamson. King's lawsuit is the continuation of a contract quarrel between Byrd and King. In 2004, Byrd sued King, contending that the promoter must live up to a contract that guaranteed Byrd $2.5 million for each title defense.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press