Published: July 25, 2004
Top Rank boss changes mind about ex-champ
Two years after suggesting that Mike Tyson be institutionalized, Top Rank president Bob Arum has changed his position on promoting the ex-heavyweight champion.
Having held talks with Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel, Arum says he hopes to land a deal to promote Tyson on his latest comeback attempt.
Arum referred to Tyson as “deranged” in January 2002 when the boxer was seeking a license to fight Lennox Lewis at the MGM Grand, a bid that ultimately failed. In a Review-Journal story then, Arum said of Tyson, “The guy should be institutionalized and not in a boxing ring.”
Arum said he has changed his mind about Tyson after receiving assurances from Tyson trainer Freddie Roach and Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler that the former champion has changed his often outlandish behavior.
“The old Tyson, I would not have promoted or had anything to do with him,” Arum said. “At my age and this stage in my life, I don’t need that. There were too many bizarre things going on for me to even want to get near that.
“But now he’s become much more reliable. He’s committed, from what I understand, to changing his life. He’s a much more humble, rational person now and I think we could work well together.”
Tyson fights Danny Williams on Friday in Louisville, Ky., in a pay-per-view bout being held a day before an Arum-promoted pay-per-view card at the MGM Grand. Arum concedes that the timing of the Tyson bout might impact his card, which features a super featherweight unification match between Erik Morales and Carlos Hernandez, but the promoter remains eager to do business with Tyson.
Arum said he also would have interest in another prominent heavyweight, IBF title-holder Chris Byrd of Las Vegas, if he becomes a free agent. Byrd is upset with promoter Don King, saying he has failed to pay his contract minimum.
“I would welcome a call from Chris Byrd,” Arum said. “He’s a guy who is totally unblemished. I don’t want problems. He’s always been a polite, charming, nice guy. It would be a pleasure for me to promote him if he were free.
“But that’s the important thing. If he is contractually tied to King, I want no part of it. I went through one crazy suit like that with King and it took years off my life.
“I haven’t contacted Byrd. I’m not interfering. But if he were free and wanted me to promote him, I think it would be a good match.”
By Keven Iole