- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

They held a press conference yesterday to push the next embarrassment before Mike Tyson, this one certain to bring a yawn to Fun Street.

The previously redoubtable Tyson is on a journey to nowhere, the last exit after another pug has sent him hurtling to the canvas.

Tyson has descended past the ear-eating spectacle of yesteryear. He no longer appeals to the curious. His power to shock is no more. He is the bearded lady of the carnival who no longer pulls in the onlookers by the quarter.

Tyson is just another cliche of the fight game, just another worn-out boxer who is only one bout ahead of the creditors. It is his time to be a human punching bag. It is his destiny. There always will be another promoter willing to hype the shell of Iron Mike.

The show in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood is not competition in the usual sense. The purpose, other than money, is largely unknown. Tyson cannot re-claim that which was his a lifetime ago. He endures only because he has nowhere else to go.

The card is going to be a tough sell unless Muhammad Ali’s daughter can inspire a run on the overpriced tickets.

When last seen in Louisville last summer, Tyson was left to explain his erosion with a knee injury. The injury was real enough, just another indication of a deteriorating body.

There is no vast lesson with an athlete who squandered his abilities and several fortunes.

His is hardly a cautionary tale, because all the cautionary tales were there long before him.

Tyson is down to fighting what amounts to a dead man. Anyone else just might be too formidable for him. The dead man is Kevin McBride, a fighter with no discernible skill other than an ability to stand on his own until the first jab.

Indifference is a tough sell, no matter how the barkers try to package the fading persona of Tyson.

He was the kinder, gentler Tyson in Louisville, seemingly at peace with his demons. He is out of gate-compelling tricks, barring a return to his old eating habits.

Tyson undoubtedly plans to exhaust the last remnants of his aura, even if one day soon it means fighting in 500-seat convention halls.

Tyson has come to be the equivalent of a street person who sells pencils by the dollar. His debt is enormous; he filed for bankruptcy last year. He fights only out of need. The need surfaces during his occasional stream-of-consciousness foray.

Tyson, 38, knows he is done, finished, and we know it as well.

The rest is so much hot air, intended to obfuscate the obvious.

This is boxing. Its future is in the past. Its relevance is occasional, and certainly not Tyson-McBride I.

Washington is being treated to a Has-Been vs. a Dead Man.

There is nothing there to entice, not even the prospect of the Dead Man Winning.

A Has-Been is a Has-Been.

Tyson’s plan is to fight a succession of dead men, possibly as many as three, before resuming his latest comeback in earnest.

We know where this is going.

Tyson is a beaten fighter, broken and bowed, his heart not into it.

This one has the strong scent of box-office loser, the same as the last Rock Newman production in the city. The Riddick Bowe-Jesse Ferguson bout in 1993 — which Bowe won by knockout in the second round — failed to captivate the city.

At least Bowe was the heavyweight champion at the time.

Tyson is a broken-down relic from a bygone era, and McBride is the dead man on loan from Ireland.

It hardly stirs the sporting passion, because it is not sport.

It is not theater.

It is a contrivance borne of desperation.

It is an unsettling brush with a tortured soul who is nearing the end.

And his end is either bad or worse.

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