BRITAIN'S Lennox Lewis was last night crowned World Boxing Council

heavyweight champion while relaxing in the Jamaica sunshine instead of

toiling in the heat of battle.

Manager Frank Maloney said: ''Lennox will become the richest and

greatest sportsman in the world.''

The WBC finally ran out of patience with Riddick Bowe, the holder, and

the eccentricities of his manager Rock Newman after the world champion

had dumped the WBC belt in the dustbin of a London hotel.

Enough was enough and Lewis was handed the championship without so

much as throwing a left jab -- and so became Britain's first heavyweight

holder for nearly a century.

''Lennox would have preferred to have beaten Bowe in the ring,''

claimed Maloney. ''That was his objective, his ambition, but Bowe's

management proved impossible to deal with.

''They made offers which amounted to insults, so it's no surprise that

this title has gone to Lennox and the world championship has been split.

It need not have happened.

''But now it has, it's my job to make as much money for Lennox as

champion and next week I will be talking with Seth Abraham about a new

deal with the American cable company, Home Box Office.

''When I signed Lennox in 1989, I felt like I had won the pools. Now I

feel like somebody has delivered the jackpot to my doorstep. Nobody can

deny that Lennox is not a true champion.

''Even before he beat Razor Ruddock in two rounds last month, we knew

that Bowe would not go through with the fight if he beat Evander

Holyfield for the world title.''

The decision to strip Bowe was made at a regular meeting of the WBC in

Mexico City. President Jose Sulaiman said: ''Bowe relinquished his title

in London in a very discourteous way.

''We are doing what we announced we would do on October 29 because we

expected that Bowe would try to duck the winner of Lewis and Ruddock. He

is running scared.''

Bowe, beaten in a 1988 Olympic final by Lewis, still retains his World

Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation versions of the

title and is set to defend those crowns in New York's Madison Square

Gardens on February 6, possibly against Puerto Rico's Alex Garcia.

Earlier, Bowe read from a prepared statement after having dumped the

green and gold WBC belt in a rubbish bin. ''Today will be remembered as

a historic day in boxing,'' he said.

''For today as undisputed, undefeated, universally-accepted champion

of the world, I reject, renounce, repudiate, and totally dismiss the

unfair, immoral, unethical, and downright silly actions of the WBC and

their president, Jose Sulaiman.

''Boxing titles are won and lost in the ring. In order to be a

champion, you must fight the champion and beat the champion.

The last Briton to hold the richest prize in sport was Bob

Fitzsimmons, who reigned between 1897 and 1899.

Lewis's promoter said negotiations had already begun for his first

fight as WBC champion and the bout probably would not take place before

March. WBC No.1 contender, Tony Tucker, is at the top of the list, said

Kathy Duva of Main Events, adding that the list also included Frank


She thought the WBC might allow Lewis to make the mandatory defence of

the title on his second fight and speculated that Lewis might fight

Bruno first.