Published: June 8, 2005
By Tim Dahlberg
WASHINGTON Longtime boxing promoter Rock
Newman stepped up to the microphone late Wednesday morning and asked
the crowd in a Howard University ballroom for a press conference to
find a seat, because, as he knowingly intoned with a measured degree of
solemn suspense, “Mike is on property. Mike Tyson is on property.”
Presumably, Newman meant inside the building,
because Tyson entered the room 10 minutes later and made his way to the
dais amid hoots of encouragement, admiration and awe from the crowd of
several hundred, many of whom were students from this historically
Wearing a light-blue, collared summer shirt,
white pants and white shoes, Tyson easily could have been headed for a
trendy soiree on Long Island but instead was here to promote Saturday
night’s heavyweight fight against little-known Kevin McBride at
Washington’s MCI Center.
Tyson became visibly irritated when one of
McBride’s people, a slick-haired fellow who grabbed the mike to take a
few verbal jabs at the former champion, saying his time had come and
long since gone.
“You’re going to get Kevin killed,” Tyson said with a sneer from his seat. ” … Let him talk, Rock. Let him talk.”
And then, after listening to a promise that
McBride definitely would win, Tyson made a promise of his own, that he
would “gut him like a fish.” Presumably, Tyson meant his opponent and
not the mouthy member of McBride’s entourage.
For his part, the soft-spoken McBride (32-4-1)
was unfailingly polite in his comments about Tyson. The Irishman added
the necessary cheeky comments that these promotional vehicles require.
Among McBride’s revelations: “I’m going to shock the world,” “I’m not
here to lose,” and “I’m a contender, not a pretender.”
Many in the crowd hooted derisively at McBride,
making their allegiance to Tyson, who turns 39 later this month, clear
Never mind that he lost his title in a stunning
knockout by Buster Douglas in 1990 or that in his most recent fight
last summer, he was knocked out in the fourth round by unheralded Danny
No, when Tyson took his turn at the mike, admiration for him was vocally expressed after nearly every sentence.
He began by repeating his recent talking points,
that he’s at peace with folks judging him harshly for his rape
conviction and subsequent three-year prison stay, his proclivity to
bite ears and his many other examples of antisocial behavior.
“But you have to understand this,” he said, “people are out here … because I’m an icon I’m an international star!”
Not so for one of the fighters on the undercard,
but her father is, and that’s why Laila Ali has much appeal that and
a 20-0 record (17 knockouts) and multiple championship belts. Muhammad
Ali’s daughter faces Erin Toughill (6-1-1) out of Huntington Beach,
Calif. Toughill politely vowed she would surprise most observers this
weekend and added, as a stone-faced Laila Ali observed, that her thrill
wasn’t so much based on facing Ali as it was being on the same bill as
Ali later told Toughill she would “break her (behind) off and hand it to her.”
In June of 1988, Mike
Tyson hit the apex of his career. Kid Dynamite,? Iron Mike,? and The
Baddest Man On The Planet? all rolled up into one. Michael Spinks never
fought again. Everyone and anyone who follows boxing knows the history-
knows the history. He was in the Spinks camp and saw the fistic prowess
that the undisputed heavyweight champion displayed. He saw it then, and
believes he sees it now- almost 17 years later. In perhaps what was one
of his most extraordinarily spectacular performances, Mike Tyson conducted
himself the same way in 1988 that he is conducting himself now. With a
sense of purpose, with a sense of maturity, with a sense of focus and
being on a mission,? exclaimed the always vibrant Newman to the overflowing
Blackburn Center Ballroom at Howard University this afternoon.
Mike Tyson knows what
he is. He knows who he is. Speaking to the large crowd of fans and media
at the final press conference leading up to his June 11th fight with Irishman
Kevin McBride, Tyson, 50-5 (44), spoke out about what he truly is. Im
an icon. Im an international star.? Nobody can argue with his synopsis.
Love him or hate him, everybody knows him.
Irelands 1992 super heavyweight Olympic representative, was respectful
of Tyson and the opportunity being given to him. I told my father before
he passed away that Id love to fight Mike Tyson,? McBride recalled. He
said that if you dream about it enough, believe in it enough and train
hard enough, it will happen.? McBride guaranteed that he was in the best
shape of his life and has never trained harder for a fight. He is also
confident in his powerful right hand, likening it to the entire island
of Ireland striking out at once.
Tyson referred to
McBride as a tomato can and also warned McBrides promoter that he was
going to get Kevin killed? and that he was going to gut him like a fish?
when he eluded that Tysons time has ended and that it was McBrides turn
Shelly Finkel, Tysons
manager, spoke of McBrides dream of fighting Mike Tyson, noting that
he never said that his dream was to beat him.
Also speaking at the
press conference was Laila Ali, who is being co-featured on the pay-per-view
event at the MCI Center. Exuding the generational Ali confidence, Laila
promised a knockout and a dislike for her challenger, Erin Toughill. I
dont like this girl. She dont like me. She comes here talking nice today-
thats my experience,? Ali commented, saying that her opponents always
seem to clam up as fight time approaches.
Toughill, known more
for her experience in mixed-martial arts than in boxing, promised that
that would change. You may not know me too well, but come June 11th?you
will!? She was equally in awe to be fighting on the same card as Mike
Tyson as she was to be fighting for a world championship.
Marty Wynn of Raging
Promotions maintained what a spectacular event the city of Washington
DC had in store. You have got to understand something. There is a lot
of money involved in this event. We brought this event and Mike Tyson
to DC for the first time ever.? Wynn ran off a list of some of the fighters
lined up on the card, This is a draft right here. These people are going
to give you an event. I hope you guys enjoy it. Im sure you will.?
Former junior welterweight
champion Sharmba Mitchell will be making his welterweight debut when he
challenges Chris The Mechanic? Smith for Smiths NABA title. Smith, 19-1-1
(12), said that he is happy to be again fighting in Washington DC, the
city in which he won his title in 2002.
Also appearing on
the card will be the exciting flyweight contender Hussein Hussein, who
is coming off an enthralling stoppage loss against Jorge Arce, and the
sure to be future champions, Philadelphias Anthony and Lamont Peterson.
is being promoted by Raging Promotions in association with The Stuckey
Group and Peake Management Group, Inc. Tickets are priced at $700, $450,
$250, $100 and $50 and can be purchased at any Ticketmaster location,
www.ticketmaster.com, the MCI Center Box Office or www.mcicenter.com.
Tickets are still available. The event will also be aired on Showtime
Pay-Per-View at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PT and carries a suggested retail price
For more information about the Tyson-McBride fight click here