- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2002

LAS VEGAS (AP) Mike Tyson was knocked out of a rich fight against Lennox Lewis in this gaming capital when he was denied a boxing license yesterday after a sometimes contentious hearing into his stormy life.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission voted 4-1 against giving Tyson a license for an April 6 fight against heavyweight champion Lewis, saying it couldn't trust that Tyson could control his emotions.
Tyson left the 2-1/2-hour hearing minutes before the vote, and his advisers said they would huddle later to see if the fight could be held elsewhere.
"I didn't think I was going to get licensed, but [adviser] Shelly Finkel was forcing me to come anyway," Tyson said as he headed for a limousine.
Tyson can still apply for a license outside Nevada to fight Lewis, although his advisers declined to say if he would. His licensing had appeared to be a mere formality until he sparked a melee at a news conference last week in New York that prompted commissioners to order him before them.
Asked if he thought there would be a fight somewhere on April 6, Tyson said, "No, it doesn't look like there'll be a fight. I don't know. I think Lennox is a coward. I'm going to fight him any time I see him in the streets."
Commissioners faced a dilemma in Tyson's application to fight again in Nevada, more than two years after the same commission suggested he take his fights on the road.
The fight would have meant millions to a fragile Las Vegas tourism economy, but after Tyson went berserk last week in New York there was little support in the state for him to fight.
"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior from Mr. Tyson, not in boxing and not in Nevada," commissioner Amy Ayoub said.
The lone vote for Tyson came from commission Chairman Luther Mack, who was the only member still remaining from the commission that revoked Tyson's license after he bit Evander Holyfield's ears and then gave it back to him 15 months later.
Other commissioners said they were dismayed at a string of incidents involving Tyson ranging from his arrest in Maryland for assault after a traffic accident to the melee last week in New York.
"A lot of people don't want to see you fight again, they want you banned from boxing," Mack told Tyson.
Tyson told the commission that a bodyguard of Lewis was to blame for what happened at the news conference, saying he swung at him only after the bodyguard put his arm on him.
He said, though, he was embarrassed because of what happened in New York, where he took a swing at a Lewis bodyguard and later yelled profanities at an audience member who suggested he be put in a straitjacket.
"It was just a horrible situation. I wish it wouldn't have happened," Tyson said. "I'm going to have to deal with it the rest of my life and explain it to my kids."
The proposed fight would be a joint pay-per-view venture between Showtime, which has a contract with Tyson, and HBO, which has a deal with Lewis.
"We are disappointed that we won't be able to present this event in Las Vegas," said Marina Capurro, vice president of communications for Showtime.
"As the television partner of the heavyweight champion, we will sit down and talk with Lennox Lewis and discuss the situation as soon as possible," said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports.
If Tyson had gotten a license, the host for the major money match would have been the MGM Grand, the site of Tyson's infamous disqualification for biting Evander Holyfield's ears in 1997.
In coat and tie, Tyson sat at a table facing the commissioners and defended himself.
"I'm no Mother Teresa," Tyson said. "I'm not Charles Manson either. Just treat me equal."
It was the second time the Nevada commission has acted against Tyson.
Following the Bite Fight, the commission fined him $3 million and revoked his license. He did get a license 15 months later and fought twice in Nevada.
In the second of those fights, Tyson knocked down Orlin Norris with a punch after bell ended the first round. Norris claimed he hurt his knee and couldn't continue. The fight was ruled a no-contest.
No disciplinary action was taken after the Norris fight, but commission let it be known it would be happy if Tyson fought elsewhere.

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