- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Mike Tyson's past behavior in the ring should play a role tonight in the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission's decision whether to license the controversial fighter.
That would seem to spell trouble for Tyson, whose application for a boxing license in the District will be the topic of tonight's commission meeting at the One Judiciary Square complex. After all, nearly every one of Tyson's fights over the past five years has been marred by problems resulting from the former two-time heavyweight champion's behavior related to boxing.
But a fighter's record of sportsmanship in the ring is just one consideration in the decision-making process, according to commissioner Michael Brown, who has been in the forefront of the District's attempt to land the troubled Tyson-Lennox Lewis heavyweight championship fight for June 8 at MCI Center.
"These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis," Brown said.
And, in this case, Tyson's record of breaking boxing rules and regulations are not likely a strong enough consideration to stop Tyson from getting a District boxing license, particularly since it appeared commissioners were ready to approve the license several weeks ago, before an outcry of protests made them back off.
Brown yesterday said that after meeting privately with Tyson last week and reviewing reports from doctors about the boxer "nothing has been brought to our attention that would raise concerns about his fitness to fight."
Whatever the commission decides tonight, though, may be moot. It appears that other interests have overtaken the District in the competition to play host to the fight. Memphis, Tenn., is the front-runner for Lewis-Tyson, industry sources said. And late last week, Emanuel Steward, Lewis' promoter, told the Detroit News that Detroit is in the lead for the fight.
Both cities have casino interests that could help raise money to back the promotion of the fight. There are two casinos close to Memphis, across the state line in Mississippi, and Detroit has three casinos, with another across the border in Windsor, Ontario.
"We've said all along that it will be tough to compete with those cities because of the casinos there," Brown said.
Tyson already has been licensed in Tennessee, but not yet in Michigan. And, despite the competition, organizers have insisted that the District remains high on their list of sites for the fight.
Mayor Anthony Williams has endorsed the fight and convinced MCI owner Abe Pollin to make the arena available after assuring Pollin in a meeting last week that he would guarantee security for the event.
But there has been opposition from business, such as the Greater Washington Board of Trade, religious leaders and a women's group protesting Tyson's record of attacks on women (he was convicted of rape in Indiana in February 1992 and served three years in prison).
The District first emerged as the favored site when Tyson's quest for a license was turned down in Texas and Georgia. His search for a license began after the Nevada Athletic Commission rejected his application for a license at a Jan.29 public hearing. Tyson originally had been scheduled to meet Lewis on April6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but those plans fell apart after Tyson went berserk at a New York news conference that officially announced the fight and got into a brawl with Lewis and members of his camp.
That was the final blow for the Nevada Athletic Commission, which had told Tyson to leave the state after his one-round debacle against Orlin Norris in October 1999, when Tyson hit Norris after the bell ended the first round. The fight was declared no contest.
Tyson already was on notice for his behavior in Nevada after he had bit Evander Holyfield's ears in their June 1997 rematch, causing a riot inside the MGM Hotel and Casino. His license was revoked after that, and it was more than a year until he was reinstated. In his first match back, in January 1999, Tyson tried to break Fran Botha's arm as he had it locked up when the first round ended, nearly causing another riot as police rushed into the arena. Two months later, he was sentenced to a year in prison in Montgomery County on an assault conviction involving two motorists after an accident near Gaithersburg in August 1998, but was released after four months.
Leaving Nevada after the Norris fight, Tyson went overseas, and stopped Julius Francis in two rounds in an uneventful fight in January 2000. But after stopping Lou Savarese in June 2000 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tyson repeatedly tried to hit Savarese even as the referee stepped in to stop the fight, and hit the referee in the process. He was fined by the British Boxing Board for his conduct. There were reports that he also attacked his promoter, Frank Warren, in a dispute over a jewelry bill.
In October 2000, Tyson stopped Andrew Golota in two rounds in their fight in Auburn Hills, when Golota refused to continue. But that fight was later declared a no contest when Tyson refused to take a post-fight drug test. It was later reported that he had tested positive for marijuana in a pre-fight drug test. Tyson was fined $5,000 by Michigan boxing officials and his license suspended for three months. He also agreed to donate $200,000 to a group of Michigan charities as part of a settlement with officials there.


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