- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

The twists and turns will make you dizzy if you follow the money in Saturday night’s Mellow Mike Tyson-Irish Kevin McBride heavyweight fight at MCI Center.

Tyson, for example, is receiving $5 million for the fight, plus some expenses. Creditors to whom the bankrupt fighter owes money will divide up a good portion of that.

One of those creditors is his business manager, who just happens to be his ex-wife, Monica Tyson.

‘Mike, she has worked tenaciously on your behalf,’ Rock Newman, the front man for this promotion, said at yesterday’s press conference at Howard University.

Actually, she has been working tenaciously on her own behalf. Monica Tyson will get $750,000 of that $5million, according to bankruptcy court documents. And there are other creditors and payments to be made.

Newman may or may not be an investor. He said he has a huge “emotional” investment in the fight, then later said he has some actual money invested. He is being paid as an adviser by the promoters because, even though he has not lived here for about five years, he remains the best-known face of boxing in this city.

Newman was an All-American baseball player at Howard, a local radio personality and the manager of former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe, which meant he was involved in a number of major heavyweight fights that made a lot of people a lot of money.

He has been leading the little-known promoters of this fight — Marty Wynn, a young Washington boxing promoter, and Darryl Stuckey, a local real estate developer — successfully so far.

Stuckey had a lot more than an “emotional” investment. He formed the group that put up the money for the fight, a group that includes, according to sources close to the promotion, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

“We created the Stuckey Group just for this fight,” he said. “A lot of those guys don’t like to be mentioned by name. They will be here, and this investment will pay off for them.”

A lot has to happen for the investment to pay off. They not only have to pay Mellow Mike, but they also are believed to have paid an undisclosed amount to rent MCI from Abe Pollin.

Typically, a venue pays promoters a site fee for the right to play host to a major fight. That, at least, is how it works in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and New York.

But those places are not quite ready to be in the Mellow Mike business again. They want to see whether Mellow Mike can stay out of trouble and win a fight. He has done the former but not the latter recently: Tyson was stopped by journeyman Danny Williams in July in Louisville, Ky.

The promoters also must pay McBride $150,000, pocket change compared to Mellow Mike’s paycheck. He got his purse by negotiating the George Costanza way, taking less money than was initially offered. McBride was supposed to be Mellow Mike’s opponent in July, but he turned down a $250,000 offer. It turns out he held out for $100,000 less. That’s negotiating, baby.

Tickets sales stood at nearly 14,000 yesterday, with prices ranging from $50 to $700, promoters said. But they will need more than gate proceeds to cover their investment. They are counting on pay-per-view sales they hope will be higher than those Mellow Mike drew for his fight against Williams last year.

“Any show that you do with Mike Tyson, to be successful, has to go beyond the gate,” Wynn said. “Mike Tyson doesn’t fight for $1 million or $2 million. You have to go beyond the gate. … Mike’s last fight with Danny Williams was 235,000 buys. This event I am looking for, at the least, 275,000 buys.”

That’s an ambitious goal. But the promoters may not need to make all their money back on this fight. Wynn said they have a three-fight deal with Mellow Mike and already have gotten interest from foreign promoters looking to get into the Mellow Mike business.

“Johannesburg [South Africa] has been in the talks,” Wynn said. “China has been in the talks.”

In fact, there is an offer from investors in China for a Mellow Mike fight even if he doesn’t beat McBride.

“We knew it would only be extremely meaningful to us if it was more than one fight,” Stuckey said.

But more than one fight for whom? Promoters not only have options on Mellow Mike for his next two fights (though those deals could be as secure as an NFL contract if Mellow Mike wins and the big boys want back in the Mike Tyson business) but McBride as well.

“Then a great white hope emerges,” Newman said. “A certain popularity will come with McBride.”

You want to follow the money? Just see whose body everyone steps over Saturday night in the ring.

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