Published: April 29, 2004
Mike Tyson has a date, a trainer and an opponent of sorts for
his first fight in more than a year. Unlike his last comeback, he also
has a wide-open heavyweight division in front of him.
Tyson’s manager, Shelly Finkel, said Thursday that the former
champion probably will return to the ring July 31 against journeyman
Kevin McBride. Finkel said negotiations were continuing over a site and
possible pay-per-view broadcast.
“We should have something definite by next week,” Finkel said. “There’s a lot of anticipation for him to come back.”
The fight would be the first for Tyson since Feb. 22, 2003, when he knocked out Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds in Memphis, Tenn.
That was supposed to be the first of a series of comeback bouts for
Tyson, who was stopped by Lennox Lewis in the eighth round of his
previous fight. But Tyson hasn’t been in the ring since and until
recently said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to fight again.
With the heavyweight division lacking a big-name champion following
the retirement of Lewis, however, the 37-year-old Tyson apparently has
“I’m totally confident about that,” Finkel said, referring to Tyson’s desire to fight.
The bout could be televised by Showtime, which has carried most of
Tyson’s fights since he was released from prison in 1995 after serving
time for rape. Finkel said the fight would be promoted by K-1.
“We’re in the negotiating process now,” Showtime boxing executive Jay Larkin said. “But this is by no means an announcement.”
Tyson has been a fixture in recent months at boxing cards and drew
more applause than the main event boxers when he showed up earlier this
month at Madison Square Garden for heavyweight title fights involving
Chris Byrd and John Ruiz.
Byrd, Ruiz, Vitali Klitschko and Lamon Brewster all hold portions of
the heavyweight title, though there is no dominant fighter in the
division. That increases the attractiveness of Tyson, who still has a
huge fan base despite his mediocre performances in recent years.
Tyson seemed reluctant to come back when Lewis was still fighting,
perhaps because he had a rematch clause with the former champion who
gave him a beating in their June 2002 fight. With Lewis gone, though,
the road to the top suddenly got a lot easier.
“I think he can beat any of the four guys out there that are
champions,” said Freddie Roach, who trained Tyson for the Etienne
fight. “He just needs to have discipline and get in shape.”
Roach said he will train Tyson again, beginning next month in
Phoenix. Tyson quit training a week before the Etienne fight because of
a dispute with Showtime over the money he would be paid, though he said
at the time he was ill.
Roach said he didn’t think he would have any problems over whether Tyson wants to train.
“We had a good camp the last time before the last week,” he said.
“The division is not good, and he knows he can get in shape and beat
any of these guys.”
After beating Corrie Sanders to win the WBC title last week,
Klitschko said he wanted to fight Tyson. But it appears Tyson will take
few chances in his latest comeback.
McBride is a journeyman at best, a fighter who has not fought any
big names and has been knocked out four times. He’s a step down from
Etienne, and it remains to be seen if fans will pay money to see Tyson
fight someone who is not considered competitive.
Finkel had planned to have Tyson fight twice, then meet unbeaten Joe Mesi in December at Madison Square Garden.
But Mesi’s career is on hold because he might have a head injury
from being knocked down in a victory over Vassiliy Jirov last month.