Published: July 29, 2004
The hype is almost over, as one-time heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and challenger Danny Williams do battle Friday night at Freedom Hall. On Thursday, the headliners and the rest of the boxers took in the traditional weigh-in. WAVE 3’s Craig Hoffman reports.
Thursday was a busy day at the ticket office at Freedom Hall in Louisville. “I think it is a great event to see, I bought two tickets for my daughter,” said Renee Wallace of Louisville, who spent $75 each for two tickets to the Mike Tyson-Danny Williams bout at Freedom Hall. Tyson has a past, but it is worth the price.”
Harold Workman is President and CEO of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center, which includes Freedom Hall. He says the Tyson fight is just another event. “We are not doing anything different than usual. Our crews know what to do, we have big events all year.”
Workman added that “Muhammad Ali fought here in his early days as Cassius Clay, and we have also done some pay per view in here.”
Crews spent most of Thursday setting up lights and cameras, while others prepared the ring for the boxers who will fight in Freedom Hall Friday night. There are eight scheduled fights, the first begins at 6:30 PM.
“We expected a surge in tickets on Friday. It always happens,” said fight promoter Chris Webb with Louisville-based Straight Out Promotions. “Our pay-per-view numbers are strong. Tyson commands attention and people want to see him.”
“We will shift officers around to handle crowd control and traffic” said Major Mike Dossett, Operations Commander for Louisville Metro Police. He says a few extra officers are being called in to help”it is the responsibility of the promoter to handle security around the fighters, inside Freedom Hall and other private events. However, we will make sure the public is safe.”
The former heavyweight champion was known as a knockout artist early in his career, and he’s now trying for another run at the heavyweight title. Still, his personal life, and antics in and outside the ring, stir strong emotions.
Jessica Muntel of Louisville is looking forward to watching Tyson box. “I am excited, it’s neat, cool to have him here. Going with my dad, so it should be fun.” When asked about the controversy surrounding Tyson, she added: “Everybody has a bad past, doesn’t mean you can’t have a clear future.”
Jimmy Riley of Youngstown, Ohio seemed to feel the same way. “Everybody needs a second chance, maybe this is his big shot.” When pressed to answer whether Mike Tyson was a changed man, Riley replied: “Hopefully. I don’t want to give any definite (answer), but hopefully he is.”
However, Polly Fleck of Louisville questioned the need for the fight, and all the hype that it has brought to the city. She says “I think it’s ridiculous –. the guy was convicted of rape. Sure, let’s go pay money to see him.”
A long list of celebrities are expected in Louisville for the event, including many who have already attended big events like the Kentucky Derby. On Thursday, Straight Out Promotions released a list of nearly two dozen names of celebrities expected to attend, including: County Music greats George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Toby Keith.
Others on the list include Miami Heat Basketball player Shaquille O’ Neal, Portland Trailblazer and Louisville native Derek Anderson, along with another Louisville native, Alan Houston of the New York Knicks. Other names released, singer Macy Gray, Actor/Director Forrest Whitaker, and professional boxer Antonio Carver.
By Craig Hoffman