Tyson eyes another bite at title

By
TysonTalk

Published: June 10, 2005

source:sport.scotsman.com

written by:STEPHEN HALLIDAY

MIKE Tyson will step into the ring tonight for only the fourth time in three years. He has lost two of his previous three contests, bludgeoned into submission by both Lennox Lewis and Danny Williams either side of his facile 49-second knockout of a petrified Clifford Etienne in February 2003.

Yet the man who will be 39 this month could be just one victory away from another shot at the world heavyweight title, if he takes care of Irish journeyman Kevin McBride at the MCI Centre in Washington.

It is both an indictment of the current state of boxing’s most glamorous weight division and an indication of the place Tyson retains in the sporting world’s consciousness that he can still be manoeuvred into a position to try and reclaim the summit he last occupied nine years ago, before his reign of terror was ended by Evander Holyfield.

A capacity 17,000 crowd is expected in America’s capital city to witness what should be a total mismatch between Tyson and 32-year-old McBride, a genial giant with a grossly flattering record of 32 wins from 37 contests. Tyson will receive £3million plus a share of the Showtime television pay-per-view income for his night’s work, while McBride will take home a career-best purse of £82,000.

For the 58th fight of his extraordinary career, Tyson has appeared this week to be in his best condition, physically and mentally, for several years. He weighed in at a trim 16st 9lb, a tribute to his latest trainer, former three-weight world champion Jeff Fenech. The Australian, as close a friend of Tyson’s as it is possible to be, has taken up a challenge that his predecessor Freddie Roach declared could no longer be met following the former undisputed world champion’s shocking fourth round loss to Williams in Louisville last July.

“There are no problems with Mike for this fight,” says Fenech. “I’m more than happy with him and he is ready for this. He knows what I demand from him to be the heavyweight champion again and he is prepared to do it. This is a more mature and patient Mike Tyson and he will win by knockout very early.”

That is a fairly safe prediction, as the odds of 1-14 on a Tyson victory confirm. McBride, whose odds of 13-2 could be viewed as miserly, brings advantages of 7in in height, 11in in reach and almost three stones in weight to the contest, but they are unlikely to compensate for his basic limitations as a boxer.

All four of McBride’s losses have come by stoppage, none of them against opponents who would be considered genuinely world class. He is the current IBC Americas heavyweight champion, a title every bit as ludicrous as it sounds, and has been hand-picked carefully by Tyson’s management.

If the man himself has sounded far more at peace with himself in the build-up to this fight, insisting that he no longer lives the “crazy life” which has seen him hurtle his way through so many shameful moments both in and out of the ring, you sense that the Tyson of old is lying dormant rather than extinct.

“I’m going to gut him like a fish,” he said graphically of McBride at this week’s pre-fight media conference at the unlikely setting of Washington’s Howard University. “He [McBride] is a tomato can and I’m an icon. I can’t deny I’ve had so many chances to get my life back on track, probably 30,000 of them. Believe me, I’m going to take this 30,001st chance and regain the heavyweight championship of the world.

“I’m boxing to pay off my debts, because I don’t like owing anyone money, but I’m also boxing to win back my title. I feel focused on fighting again. I’m not going to bite anyone’s ear, I just want to be the champ and a good person. When I want something that badly, I keep going relentlessly until I get it.”

Although tonight’s fight will only be his seventh since he stopped Lou Savarese in 38 torrid seconds at Hampden five years ago, Tyson somehow retains a world ranking of 13 with the WBC, which will happily promote him to their top ten and contender status and an opportunity to challenge current champion Vitali Klitschko within 12 months.

According to trainer Fenech, Tyson would be more than a match for either the huge Ukrainian or rival WBA champion John Ruiz. On recent evidence, that has to be a highly questionable assessment, but there should be no doubting the outcome of tonight’s contest, which is being shown live in the UK by Setanta Sports.

McBride glories in the nickname of “The Clones Colossus”, but he is expected to be reduced to rubble by Tyson. Anything less, and Iron Mike will have found a final resting place in boxing’s scrapyard.