- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

David Brenner is a big fight fan, perhaps the biggest fight fan in the entertainment world. The comedian has had a front row seat to many of the biggest boxing matches over the last 30 years.
He was at the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight in 1971 at Madison Square Garden and was in the HBO documentary last year about that bout, telling a story that illustrated his fervor for the sport.
"I was walking up the steps of the Garden with this beautiful girl, a model," he said. "I had two tickets in my hand, and all of a sudden this kid comes running out of the crowd, grabs the tickets out of my hand and takes off. I went flying down the stairs after him, jumped into the air and landed on top of him. I got my tickets back and gave him a few good shots. It was a sensational fight, the fight of all fights."
He was at all three Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard battles. "I loved Duran," Brenner said. "I was at all of his big fights. At the 'No Mas' fight [the second Duran-Leonard bout in which Duran quit in the eighth round], he had been all coked up and ate a big steak before the fight. He was afraid he was going to go in his pants in the ring. I was in the dressing room after the fight, and Duran sat on the toilet for about 15 minutes."
Brenner won't be at the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson heavyweight title fight on Saturday in Memphis, though. Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Brenner embarked on a nationwide tour, calling it the "Laughter to the People" Tour, and he will be busy with that tour, which makes a stop at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University on June 15 to benefit the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.
"September 11 changed everything for everybody," Brenner said. "People were afraid to leave their homes and go anywhere. I had a 48-week deal in Las Vegas, but I told my agent to get me out of it. I wanted to go on the road because I thought people really needed laughter now more than ever. It's been great. I've never had such appreciative audiences. I've been through 35 states so far. It was supposed to stop in January at Madison Square Garden Theater, but the response has been so good I've kept going. This isn't a time for us to hide. I'm hoping to help people laugh because it will help us to live."
But even though he won't be in Memphis on Saturday night, his heart will be with the fight and with the fighter he has known for nearly 20 years Mike Tyson.
"I've known Tyson since he was 17 years old," Brenner said. "I never saw anyone with his knowledge of boxing. He knew so much about the history of the sport and fighters of the past. And in the ring, he was so menacing. I never saw anyone who could hit with either hand from any position like he could. If he didn't get all screwed up, he would have beaten everyone that came along.
"When he first won the heavyweight championship [defeating Trevor Berbick in 1986 to win the World Boxing Council title], he was yelling at me from the ring after the fight was over, 'David, we did it.' I had predicted he would be the youngest heavyweight champion ever and the oldest. I didn't think there would be anyone who could beat him."
But someone did. Buster Douglas, as a 40-1 underdog, stopped Tyson in the 10th round in 1990, and in 1996 he was stopped by Evander Holyfield in the 11th round. Then there was the disqualification for biting off pieces of Holyfield's ears in their 1997 rematch and his unremarkable and controversial performances in the ring since then. There were the three years in jail for rape, the 14-month suspension for the Holyfield biting incident and the four months in Montgomery County jail for beating up two motorists after a traffic accident.
The someone who stopped Mike Tyson was Tyson himself, and Brenner recalls telling Tyson that when the two were sitting outside one New York night. "Don King [Tysons former promoter] and I were neighbors in New York," Brenner said. "We lived in townhouses near each other. One night Mike and I were sitting on the steps talking. It was like 3 a.m., something like that. I told Mike that there was one guy who could beat him, who could take everything away from him. I said, 'It's you, Mike. If you don't get your act together, you'll blow it all.' And that's what happened."
Not exactly. This is the country of second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and who knows how many chances. Tyson may have blown his legacy, but here he is, on the verge of fighting for the heavyweight championship yet again, even though he has done nothing to earn it. And Brenner thinks he has a good chance of regaining it for the third time.
"He has to be frightening, but in control, in the first three rounds," Brenner said. "If he can get inside and Lewis does not run away, Mike will knock Lennox out. There is no way that Lennox Lewis can stand up to Mike Tyson, and I think Lennox knows that. But if Lewis runs and uses his jab and doesn't fight, Mike will get frustrated and go wild and then be in a lot of trouble."
Then, just like David Brenner once told Mike Tyson a long time ago, the man who beats Tyson will be Tyson himself.


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