Tyson camp balks at Arum's plan

By
TysonTalk

Published: August 5, 2004

Calling Top Rank president Bob Arum’s plan to promote Mike Tyson “impossible,” the former heavyweight champion’s adviser, Shelly Finkel, said he plans to explore a different direction.

Arum had proposed a three-fight, $80 million deal for Tyson, with an option for a fourth bout. But that was before Tyson’s fourth-round knockout loss to journeyman Danny Williams on Friday in Louisville, Ky.

But Arum remains interested in signing Tyson. Arum proposed a plan similar to the one that former champion George Foreman used to return from a 10-year retirement. Foreman fought for small purses in nontraditional boxing venues against opponents of a much lower caliber than Williams.

Foreman retired in 1977 after a loss to Jimmy Young, then returned March 9, 1987, when he stopped Steve Zouski in Sacramento, Calif. Between 1987 and 1990, Foreman fought 19 times. He regained the title at age 45 when he stopped Michael Moorer on Nov. 5, 1994, at the MGM.

“This is the only way to do it, the only way that will work,” Arum said. “It’s a project, but you have to put him in these fights in relatively obscure locations before you put him in again with a top fighter, or even a Danny Williams, for that matter. I think you may have to take him abroad, to Asia and Europe and maybe even Dubai. I’ve been contacted by people there about it.

“The bottom line is, you can’t ask people to spend their hard-earned money on pay per view against the kinds of guys he needs to be fighting now. You have to get him in there with a lot of these `D’ type fighters and let him stay busy and get some wins before you move him up.”

Finkel scoffed at that plan, saying neither he nor Tyson would agree to it.

Finkel, one of boxing’s most prominent managers, and Arum, head of one of the sport’s most prominent promotional companies, haven’t been on the same side since 1979, and that doesn’t seem about to change.

Finkel said other promoters are interested in Tyson, who is $38 million in debt, and that their plans are much more similar to his own.

“We’re plain and simple not doing that,” Finkel said. “I’m not talking to Bob now because he doesn’t know how to talk and not talk to the world. We never discussed that kind of a plan and it would be impossible — impossible — for us to consider it.”

Finkel said interest in Tyson remains high and that he doesn’t expect any problems in finding a venue once the former champion recovers from knee surgery. Tyson suffered a complex tear of the left lateral meniscus in the first round of the Williams bout and probably won’t be able to fight again until next year.

Finkel said Tyson would like to fight in Nevada, though he doesn’t have a license to do so. The Nevada Athletic Commission denied Tyson’s 2002 license application by a 4-1 vote.

“Based on the way he’s acted, don’t you think he deserves a license to fight wherever he chooses?” Finkel said.

Finkel said even though Las Vegas casinos might not be interested in spending large sums to lure a Tyson fight, that shouldn’t preclude the commission from granting him a license.

“You don’t have to own a car in order to get a driver’s license,” Finkel said.

Commission chairman John Bailey said Tyson would have to attend a hearing before receiving a license. Tyson’s conduct at recent fights — he has had no trouble or incidents — would be a factor, Bailey said, but he saw no way to license Tyson without a hearing.

“He’s a denied applicant, and he’s been disciplined by this commission before, so we would definitely require a hearing in order to license him,” Bailey said. “We need to understand the totality of where he’s been and where he is now, and you need a hearing to do that.”

Source: Kevin Iole, Las Vegas Review Journal