By Richard Brown
The eagerly-awaited heavyweight title fight between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis is to be broadcast exclusively on Showtime in the Middle East.
Dubbed ‘the greatest heavyweight explosion ever', the fight could generate a worldwide purse estimated at $150 million, making it the world’s most lucrative bout. Lewis and Tyson stand to earn up to $17.5 million each from the WBC, IBF and IBO contest. Showtime subscribers will pay $35 for the privilege, or $25 for advance bookings. Peter Einstein, Showtime president and chief executive, says: "This fight is bigger than Ali-Frazier or Ali-Foreman. It's the match that the world wants to see. By making it a Pay Per View event available to all Showtime subscribers we are ensuring that the largest number of viewers in the region can watch the confrontation that will be bigger than the 'Thriller in Manila' or the 'Rumble in the Jungle'."Refused a licence by Nevada's boxing officials for a Las Vegas contest following an ugly brawl in New York, Lewis and Tyson are set to clash at The Pyramid Arena in Memphis on June 8.Says Andrew Bone, Showtime PR manager: “Our qualitative studies have shown that boxing is one of the three most popular sports in the Middle East. Because of its size, this was always going to be pay-per-view and with Tyson signed to HBO and Lewis to Showtime it was natural that this is being shown as an HBO/Showtime event.”Showtime will broadcast the fight as the first regional PPV event on its Home Cinema service. Live broadcast starts at 04:00 KSA (05:00 UAE) on June 9 with the Lewis-Tyson contest scheduled to start at 06:00 KSA (07:00 UAE). The fight will be repeated continuously throughout the day on Home Cinema Channels 9 and 10.