Witherspoon, who will end up with less than $20,000 from his $300,000 purse, finally agreed to go through with the fight. Three days earlier the IRS had filed a lien of $180,148.84 against Don King Productions. It was to pay the back taxes that the IRS said Witherspoon owed from the years 1982 through 1985.
"If you know the IRS like I know the IRS, you don't fool around," counseled King, who had been acquitted of tax evasion after a six-week trial last year. "I'm holding $200,000 of Tim's purse for them," said promoter King. The other $100,000 went to manager King.
And so Witherspoon went into the ring to lose his title and his tooth.
Smith's next fight is with Mike Tyson, the WBC champion, on March 7 in Las Vegas. It should be a smoother ride for the HBO- Don King-Butch Lewis unification series, right? Wrong!
"The WBA has never agreed to a WBA-WBC title fight," Alberto Ale-man Jr., the chairman of the WBA championship committee, said on Saturday. " Smith has 120 days in which to defend his title against the top contender...and that man is Tony Tubbs."