Published: May 2, 2004
heavyweights have been vying for championship belts, former undisputed
titleholder Mike Tyson has been on the sideline. That’s about to end:
Tyson is coming back.
Manager Shelly Finkel
envisions Tyson (50-4-0, 44 KOs) being a busy fighter the second half
of 2004. Three bouts are planned, with the first to be held in July. An
opponent hasn’t officially been named, but the first choice is
non-threatening 6-6, 280-pound Kevin McBride (31-4-1, 26 KOs).
“Mike has been out of
the ring more than a year now. In the last six years this is the best
training I’ve seen him do, physically,” Finkel said. “He’s not in the
boxing ring yet. Trainer Freddie Roach will come in in two weeks and
start working with him.
“The plan is to stay more
active than he’s been the past 10 years, so that he could fight three
times this year … July, September and December.”
With McBride penciled in as
the likely opponent for July at a yet-to-be-named U.S. location, Finkel
hasn’t decided who will be second on Tyson’s hit list. This much is
certain: the September bout won’t be against a marquee fighter or on
U.S. shores. The big-name opponent will have to wait until December.
Finkel wants Tyson-Mesi at
Madison Square Garden in the final month of the year. Tyson-Mesi has
the makings of a pay-per-view fight, but it hinges on the result of
neurological tests Mesi (29-0-0, 25 KOs) took after his bout against
Vassiliy Jirov in March. The Nevada Athletic Commission has suspended
Mesi pending the outcome of his tests.
With Mesi’s future in limbo,
nothing is being left to chance. In the event Mesi doesn’t receive the
okay to resume his career, Finkel is lining up substitutes and the list
is impressive. At the top is WBO champion Lamon Brewster (30-2-0, 27
“That to me would be a big fight at the Garden,” Finkel said. “Don (King) and everyone could make a lot of money.”
Brewster is similar to Mesi
physically and stylewise. Like Mesi, he is 6-foot-1 and comes into the
ring at about 235 pounds. Brewster also packs a heavy punch. Of his 30
victories, against two defeats, 27 ended early.
Neither Brewster nor Mesi
possess boxing skills, which is a plus for the soon-to-be 38-year-old
Tyson. But what separates Brewster from Mesi is his ability to take
solid punches. He absorbed a lot of hard shots April 10 during his
title fight against Wladimir Klitschko.
He was floored in the
fourth, but got up and ended the fight in the fifth. Mesi, on the other
hand, is still recovering from the three knockdowns he suffered against
Brewster’s chin makes him a
tougher test for Tyson than Mesi. Being the holder of a title adds to
his attractiveness, but he’s no shoe-in. Finalizing a deal with King,
who promotes Brewster, is always a crapshoot. In case Tyson-Brewster
falls through, Finkel is considering Jirov, Monte Barrett and James
If Tyson goes 3-0 this year, the big payoff comes in 2005. Finkel has his sights set on Tyson-Roy Jones Jr.
This fight has been talked
about since May 2003 when Jones (49-1-0, 38 KOs) beat John Ruiz to win
the WBA heavyweight title. It never got done, primarily because Tyson
showed little interest in returning to the ring. That’s no longer the
Jones has since moved back
to light heavyweight and will defend his WBC title May 15 in Las Vegas
against Antonio Tarver. While his mind is on Tarver, thoughts of
fighting Tyson remain fresh. The money, however, will have to be right.
“It would have to be very
lucrative for him,” Jones’ trainer Alton Merkerson said. “We reached
out to Mike Tyson (last year) but it fell through. Roy was looking
forward to fighting Tyson.
“If Roy could pin down a
fight where he could make $50 million, $35 million, whatever, which
would be the biggest payday for him, I’m pretty sure he would take it.”
Moneywise, Tyson and Jones
aren’t that far apart. The numbers Finkel has mentioned for Tyson-Jones
are in the $30 million neighborhood.
“The biggest fight of all
next year is Roy Jones,” Finkel said. “For $30 million, I think Jones
might return to heavyweight.”