- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Mike Tyson is expected to announce today his annual pilgrimage to the ring, this time to fight Danny Thomas.

No, that’s not right. He’s going to fight Danny Kaye.

Wait, let me check my list of known Dannys again: Not Danny and the Juniors. Not Danny Snyder. Here it is: No. 1,033 on the list of known Dannys, a British heavyweight named Danny Williams.

Tyson likes those obscure British heavyweights.

He once fought one named Julius Francis, knocking him out in two rounds. If he keeps fighting these guys, they will make him the British heavyweight champion.

One problem, though: Tyson wouldn’t be able to defend his belt on British soil. Tyson has not been welcome there since his fight against Lou Savarese in June 2000. Tyson beat up British promoter Frank Warren before the fight, stopped Savarese in one round, took a swing at the referee and later declared he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis’ children.

Two years later, he was eating Lewis’ fists in Memphis.

Now, it’s Louisville, Ky., where Tyson and Williams will meet July 30.

Memphis, Louisville … how did Washington miss out on this fight? Maybe we can get some of that P. Diddy money that was supposed to back a Lewis-Tyson fight in the District.

Tyson, 38, has to fight in places like Memphis and Louisville because he can’t get licensed at the usual scenes of his boxing crimes.

Tyson was just licensed in New Jersey by its athletic control board, but the governor says he won’t allow Tyson to fight in state-owned arenas.

He is unwelcome in Las Vegas because of his repeated transgressions: biting off pieces of Evander Holyfield’s ear, trying to break Frans Botha’s arm in the ring, hitting Orlin Norris after the bell.

Tyson eventually came up with a plan to rehabilitate his career: fight just once a year. After all, how much can you mess up in the ring if you fight just once a year?

That has been his strategy the past three years. But now Tyson’s advisors — needing cash — have come up with an opposite plan: fight seven times in the next three years.

The chances of that happening are as small as Tyson winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He hasn’t fought that often since the three-year stretch of 1989 to 1991.

But Tyson is bankrupt even though he earned more than $300 million in his 19 years in boxing. He owes more than $30 million to the Internal Revenue Service, his ex-wife Monica and various other debtors.

Tyson is broke despite the $14 million settlement he just reached with promoter Don King that gives him $8 million now and two payments of $3 million over the next two years.

Tyson had been suing King for $100 million, claiming the promoter stole that much money from him. But Tyson against King in a courtroom would be like Tyson against Danny Bonaduce in the ring. He never had a chance.

Plus, according to Tyson, he needs cash. He told a British reporter he has been accepting handouts from drug dealers.

“For two years I have been a bum, truly a bum in the streets,” Tyson said. “I’ve got nowhere to live. I’ve been crashing with friends, literally sleeping in shelters. Unsavory characters are giving me money, and I’m taking it. I need it. The drug dealers, they sympathize with me. They see me as some sort of pathetic character.”

This, of course, is fantasy.

Tyson has been living just fine. He still shows up in expensive hotels and at major events. While he was claiming he slept in shelters, he told the New York Daily News that he was staying in a home in Arizona worth about $100,000. If Tyson was as elusive in the ring as is the truth about him, he might still be a great fighter.

He is a bum in the ring, though. Tyson has been shot as a fighter for a long time. But — talk about pathetic — he is getting back into the picture at a time when the heavyweight division is dominated by bums. As shot as Tyson is, he probably can still take most of the top-ranked heavyweights.

And to take another step down this pathetic ladder, there are big paydays ahead for Tyson if he can get through two or three fights.

There is a third fight against Evander Holyfield, who would be about 42 at the time of a bout. Holyfield also would be slurring his words, just like another opponent in a potential Tyson payday: Riddick Bowe.

Bowe just got out of prison and claims he will fight again. He grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood as Tyson, and the Battle of Brownsville could bring Tyson at least a $20 million payday. Of course, they may have to bring Tyson in the ring in handcuffs and Bowe in a wheelchair.

First, though, Tyson has a date in Louisville against Dangerous Danny Rather. They operate on the same frequency.

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