The World Boxing Council cannot strip heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield of his title for fighting former champion George Foreman, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Citing the WBC's own bylaws, Superior Court Judge Amos Saunders said it would be unsportsmanlike conduct for the organization to strip Holyfield of his title because it was tantamount to taking the side of former champion Mike Tyson in the dispute.Holyfield knocked out James "Buster" Douglas in Las Vegas last month to take the title. He signed a contract to defend the title against former champion George Foreman on April 19.

The WBC wanted Holyfield to defend against Tyson, and had threatened to strip Holyfield of his WBC title if he fought Foreman first.

At one point the WBC, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation declared that the winner of Holyfield-Douglas fight must defend the title against Tyson.

But the WBA and IBF switched course and sanctioned the Foreman-Holyfield fight.

Both the WBA and the IBF have said that if Holyfield wins in April, he would have to then fight the No. 1 contender, who is certain to be Tyson.

The WBC did not send lawyers to argue its case.

In an affidavit included in the 27-page brief, Holyfield said, "If the WBC follows through with its threat to strip me of the title I won fairly in the ring, it would be of grave injury to me for which there can be no fair compensation."