- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

Despite all the chaos surrounding the proposed heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, one thing could make all of the confusion go away.
"The issue is money," said one source close to the negotiations. "Lots of other issues go away if you have the money."
So far, despite numerous reports, no one has revealed himself as willing to provide that money.
No one in Washington has, despite reports there are several groups willing to do so.
And in Memphis, Tenn., where promoter Brian Young insists he has the financial backing in place to offer a site fee between $12million and $13million, those backers remain a secret.
Why, then, isn't there a done deal in Memphis? Not only do they supposedly have the money but a license for Mike Tyson and an arena, the Pyramid, to play host to the fight.
"It's Tyson," one industry source said. "This deal would have been done already if it wasn't for the unpredictability of Mike Tyson. And anyone who would put the money up for this fight realizes that they take an enormous risk."
One risk is simply getting Tyson into the ring on the scheduled date. Even if a deal is finalized, there is no guarantee Tyson will be ready June8, the targeted date for Lewis-Tyson. Any delay could prove disastrous for the marketing and pay-per-view sales; summer remains the worst time to put on such a fight.
"If there is a delay, you are looking at the fight being pushed back to the fall," one promoter said.
The former two-time heavyweight champion has a history of postponing fights because of injuries and other problems, dating back to the days when Tyson ruled the division.
In fact, Tyson's demise and his track record for pulling out of and delaying fights have a parallel path.
In October 1989, when he was still undisputed heavyweight champion, Tyson was supposed to fight Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in Canada. But the fight was canceled when reports surfaced that Tyson had a virus and couldn't fight. A week after announcing the fight was canceled, Tyson was seen with a group of women at a New York nightclub.
Instead of rescheduling the fight against Ruddock, Tyson instead took what was seen as an easy payday in a bout scheduled for Feb.11, 1990, in Tokyo against a journeyman named James "Buster" Douglas.
Douglas, a 40-1 underdog, handed an out-of-shape Tyson his first loss, stopping him in 10 rounds in the greatest upset in the history of the heavyweight championship. Tyson came back and fought Ruddock twice in 1991, with the first fight ending in a controversial technical knockout victory by Tyson in the seventh round and the second one going to Tyson in a decision.
Those wins put Tyson in place to regain his heavyweight title, this time against Evander Holyfield, the man who knocked out Buster Douglas in three rounds to become undisputed champion. Even though Tyson was facing rape charges from a July 16, 1991, incident in an Indianapolis hotel room involving beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington, he was still scheduled to fight Holyfield on Nov. 8, 1991. However, that fight was canceled when Tyson supposedly suffered a rib injury while training.
Three months later, Tyson was found guilty of rape, and a month later he began serving a six-year prison sentence in an Indiana state prison. He was there three years before being released in March 1995.
Tyson began his comeback five months later against a club fighter named Peter McNeeley. His second fight was supposed to be in November against Buster Mathis Jr., on Nov.3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, while the next day Riddick Bowe and Holyfield were scheduled to face each other for the third time at Caesars Palace, just down the strip. But Tyson-Mathis was postponed just days before the fight when Tyson supposedly suffered a thumb injury. They fought six weeks later, on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia, and Tyson stopped Mathis in three rounds.
Tyson regained the heavyweight title with knockout wins over World Boxing Council champion Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon. But he suffered another upset in November 1996, when he was stopped by Holyfield in 11 rounds. That set up the rematch, which ended after three rounds when Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield on the ears. But many people forget that fight, too, was also postponed because of yet another Tyson injury. The rematch had been scheduled for May 4, 1997. It took place June 28.
Since then, Tyson's fights have run into physical problems often because the former champion was not in shape and legal problems, resulting in just six fights in the past five years. His last one was a lackluster technical knockout that ended when his opponent, lightly regarded Brian Nielsen, quit after the sixth round. The Oct.13, 2001, fight had been delayed for several months because of Tyson's legal problems and conditioning.
Given Tyson's erratic history, both in and out of the ring, and the questions about his mental and physical condition photos showed a flabby Tyson, who has fired his trainer, Tommy Brooks, going after reporters in Cuba over the Christmas holidays the financial backers of a Lewis-Tyson fight are taking a gamble, despite a huge pay-per-view potential.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide