- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

We heard a lot of voices last night at the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission hearing on a boxing license for 911 Mike Tyson and all of them more than 60 in all were in favor of 911 Mike getting his license to fight heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis on June 8 at MCI Center.
"Let the world know we support and care for him as a human being," Rev. Willie Wilson said. "We can demonstrate to the world that we are a city that cares about people."
"We feel we should not be the judge or jury of Mr. Tyson's personal life," said Wanda Bruce, who said she represented a group called Women in Support of Tyson. "We stand in full support."
"Mike Tyson has a constitutional right to get a boxing license," said Dean Jordan (the boxing license provision was in the original version of the Constitution, but it was believed to be edited out by Jefferson).
It was a slam dunk for Tyson, as the three commission members, after listening to more than an hour of testimony and spending about 15 minutes behind closed doors, unanimously voted to grant 911 Mike a boxing license.
There was one voice, though, that wasn't heard from, and whose silence over this fight speaks volumes.
Where in the world is Don King?
King has been uncharacteristically quiet about this whole Tyson fiasco, from the Jan.22 New York news conference with Lewis to the Nevada commission's denial of a license for 911 Mike a week later to the current road show begging for a boxing license for the troubled heavyweight and a place to host this cursed fight.
He has no role in this so-called megafight at least not yet. Main Events is Lewis' American promoter, and 911 Mike has no promoter. But just because King is not in the picture doesn't mean he isn't working behind the scenes, doing all that he can to scuttle this fight unless he can get a piece of it somehow, or at least make it work to benefit him.
"He is always the big question mark," one rival promoter said. "You know he is up to something."
King has opted not to discuss Lewis-Tyson, declining a request for an interview. King may be the only man whose presence is just as loud when he is silent as when he speaks, because he speaks so often that when he has nothing to say, something is going on.
The chaos surrounding Lewis-Tyson is right up King's alley, just the sort of confusion that the hardest-working man in show business can turn to his advantage. It is a sure bet that King is not willingly sitting on the sideline while Lewis-Tyson remains uncertain.
King has been working on Lewis for more than a year, even before the first Lewis-Hasim Rahman fight. But those efforts intensified in the days leading up to the rematch, and after that fight, Lewis declared, "Don King is a great promoter. No matter what you think of him, you've got to admit that."
It's no wonder Lewis said that. You would have thought King was Lewis' promoter, not Rahman's, by the financial terms of the rematch. Lewis got a guaranteed $11million purse, while Rahman agreed to a ridiculous deal that paid him just $6 million, plus a pay-per-view percentage. With King, you always want to get your money up front, before it has a chance to go through the "trickerations" of his accountants.
King continued putting the full-court press on Lewis after that, even reportedly buying him a new car to try to win him over. And there has been speculation that Lewis was playing King. After all, King spent years ridiculing Lewis as heavyweight champion and went to court against him several times.
Plus, Lewis believes he was robbed of a victory in his first fight against Evander Holyfield because of King, who was Holyfield's promoter at the time. That fight, which many ringside observers believe Lewis won, ended in a controversial draw and launched several government investigations into the judging, none of which found any criminal wrongdoing.
I'm sorry. If it's a battle of Lewis playing King, it's no contest. Lewis may be an outstanding chess player, but King plays a whole different game, and is often five moves ahead of everyone else.
Industry sources say that King has been in talks with Adrian Ogun, Lewis' business manager, and has been working to convince Lewis that he needs to move on, that the Tyson fight will not happen now and maybe never. King is trying to convince Lewis that King has a Plan B, which could be put into effect come Friday, when Lewis, under the terms of the original agreement with 911 Mike, can pull out of the contract or seek new terms if licenses and a venue are not secured. As of now, there is no set venue, with both Memphis (911 Mike is already licensed in Tennessee) and Detroit still in the hunt to host the fight.
Plan B could be a King-promoted fight with Chris Byrd, the International Boxing Federation No.1 mandatory challenger. The IBF already has dictated that 911 Mike must be licensed and a venue in place by March 25 or else Lewis must begin talks with Byrd a much tougher opponent than 911 Mike to defend the IBF title. Lewis also holds the World Boxing Council heavyweight belt.
King probably would be willing to overpay Lewis for a Byrd fight, because, in the end, he wants to make himself an indispensable part of any deal for a Lewis-Tyson fight. It is in King's best interests, because he is facing an upcoming court appearance involving a $100million lawsuit filed by 911 Mike, charging King, his former promoter, with theft and fraud. He has been hoping to position himself so that if Lewis-Tyson were to happen, 911 Mike would have to drop the lawsuit.
"He wants to put Tyson into as bad a position as possible going into that lawsuit," one industry source said.
Regardless of the commission's action last night, I doubt that Lewis-Tyson will end up in the District. Then again, I doubt that Lewis-Tyson will end up anywhere.
This was too difficult a fight to put together under the best of circumstances, when it was scheduled for April 6 in Las Vegas. It involved two networks working together in an unprecedented agreement. We have seen and heard from Showtime, 911 Mike's network, which desperately wants this fight to happen to recoup its multi-million investment in 911 Mike. We haven't heard a peep from HBO, Lewis' network, who may just want this fight to go away.
It will likely go away, and Don King may be the one to make it disappear.


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