The unpredictable career of Mike Tyson may be
about to take another strange twist with the announcement that the
former world heavyweight champion will be taking part in a K-1
kickboxing contest in July.
K-1 central in Japan announced on Thursday that 'Iron' Mike,
reportedly in training for a comeback behind closed doors in Arizona,
will appear in a K-1 bout in either Las Vegas, Los Angeles or New York.
Tyson would apparently be guaranteed a purse of $9.5 million against an unnamed K-1 opponent.
With the heavyweight division in such a desperate state, boxing
would appear to be crying out for a focused Tyson, but it now seems he
is heading in a different direction.
Official statement from K-1
TOKYO, April 15, 2004 -- K-1 has come to terms with boxing legend
Mike Tyson for his debut in the World's premier fighting sport.
Financial details were not disclosed, but the Brooklyn-born former
world heavyweight champion's first K-1 bout will be on or around July
31st of this year.
"After many months of negotiations with Tyson and his
representatives, we signed a contract on April 11 (Japan time),"
announced K-1 Event producer Sadaharu Tanikawa to a standing-room-only
press conference at the Takanawa Prince Hotel in central Tokyo. The
contract calls for a fight this summer, and gives K-1 an option for two
further Tyson fights.
K-1 initially wanted to hold the fight in Japan, but due to
difficulties getting Tyson a visa for this country, the organization is
now going with an American venue -- New York City's Madison Square
Gardens and Los Angeles' Staples Center were both mentioned at the
The fighter who will face "Iron Mike" is also a matter of ongoing
consideration and negotiations, although Tanikawa did refer to Bob
Sapp, Jerome LeBanner, Ray Sefo and Musashi as possibilities.
Tanikawa said that although K-1 Rules would be best, a final
decision on the bout's format would be made at a later date, possibly
when Tyson 's opponent is announced.
More quotes and pictures available in the extended section of this post (click 'Read More' below).
"The main thing for now is that we do have a deal with Mike and he
is excited about it and eager to fight," said a K-1 representative.
"Mike will be at the K-1 Battle of the Bellagio II in Las Vegas this
April 30, and we will release more information at that time."
While Tyson will of course be the main event, there are also plans
to pack the card with K-1's biggest stars, said the representative.
"This will permit us to showcase K-1 to a wide international audience
in advance of the Athens Olympics [which start August 13]."
TBS will handle the Japanese broadcasting, and negotiations are in
progress stateside on a pay-per-view deal for what promises to be the
fightsport event of 2004.
Tyson at a K-1 event challenging Bob Sapp to a fight
Sources: K-1 Official Website,
boxingscene.com and secondsout.com