...it was the age of press pass confusion, it was the age of Mike Tyson's presence, it was the epoch of excitement that I was about to finally meet him, it was the epoch of hearing he had left the locker room through the back door.
So I didn't get to meet Mike Tyson.
But to tell you the truth, I would rather almost meet Mike Tyson than actually meet anyone else I can think of at the moment. So here we go.
The drive was long, but the wait in front of the Press Credentials booth seemed much much longer. As I entered the chilly vestibule just inside The Chevrolet Center, I approached the designated window to proudly represent TysonTalk.com. It was an awesome night for a Tyson fight. Birds were singing and flutes where whisping.
Queue harsh record scratch.
I got stood up fellas.
More pictures and quotes available in the extended section of this post (click 'Read More' below).
Stared at by hundreds of envious fans waiting in line to get their regular hum-drum tickets, I stood alone and ready to receive my fancy all-access necklace. I then heard what were possibly the least awesome words ever; "I'm sorry but you're not on the list, sir." I spelled out my last name for the young lady behind the window. I even spelled out Tyson Talk just incase she needed the extra help. Unfortunately she knew how to both spell and read. My heart slammed into my stomach like an '88 Tyson hook; Mr. Vakili had not, in fact, reserved the press pass he offered to me earlier in the week. After a few moments of mutual confusion & awkward silences, the nervous ticketeer grabbed a walkie-talkie and motioned someone just across the room.
Queue ball-busting power-trip 30-something event-organizer-chick music.
Up walks who I assume was one of the top dogs of the night. A youngish woman in a tight grey business suit, complete with headset and clipboard. I might've actually described her as beautiful if it weren't for the talons she dug into my jugular. It was kind of like Tyson vs. Ruddock, only she got to be Tyson.
To help move this along a bit quicker, she loudly and sternly explained to me a simple concept that I just could not seem to grasp:
If you're not on the press pass list, you're not getting a press pass.
I could feel the eyes of the public heating up my back as I took her verbal uppercuts like a 3 year old girl. It really was that hilarious, I'm sure. I replied with a few good comebacks of my own, like "uh..." and "umm..." and I even brought out the "but...". She continued to tell me Mr. Vakili had nothing to do with the media.
Then I pulled out my trump card, not sure if I was making the worst bluff in history or if I was really holding a royal flush in my shaking hands...
"I'll just call Mr. Vakili and ask him what the problem is then."
Tyson goes down!
I can't believe it worked. Add to the situation that I forgot to bring Mr. Vakili's phone number with me to the fight, this could've been extra ugly for me, I don't even want to think about it. But it freaking worked.
She quickly turned towards the young lady at the booth and growled through her teeth, "Give me a press pass." I held my hand out to receive my shiny new necklace. Score.
I'm only five minutes into Mike Tyson's World Tour and I already almost died, this was going to be an eventful night for sure.
The seats I originally purchased were amazing. Just three rows from the ring and perfectly close to where the ring girls sat, I had absolutely nothing to complain about.
Fast forward through seven entertaining undercard fights (five of which ended by knockout) and nearly five hours later, Mike Tyson was ready to fight.
Still not having quite figured out exactly what the small press pass allowed me, I slowly walked towards two security guards blocking the passage Mike was about to make to enter the ring. They both smiled and stepped aside. Score again.
I made my way just in front of the purple & white glowing entrance and pretended like I knew what I was doing amongst the handful of obviously big-shot photographers and found myself a nook to stand in, squeezed between clunky 10 pound cameras and sweaty wiggling media-men.
The crowd bloomed in chant, "TYSON! TYSON! TYSON!"
You could feel the energy pulsing inside your veins. Your body knew something huge was about to happen, but it wasn't sure what exactly. And according to the amount of adrenaline it pumped me with, it knew it was something huge.
Corey 'T Rex' Sanders and his crew first fill the catwalk to 'No More Pain' by Tupac Shakur; he was greeted with both warm cheer and loud booing by the crowd. He looked happy, and he looked big.
The catwalk was again empty, and the crowd again reloaded on their chant for the baddest man on the planet.
The speakers crackled and then filled the booming Chevrolet Center with 'Only God Can Judge Me' by Tupac Shakur. It was Iron Mike Tyson time.
He looked how I expected him to look. He looked larger than life. 241 compact pounds began stepping towards the ring. It's times like these that are the most bittersweet, as I remember nearly nothing of his ring walk. I remember timing my humble point-and-shoot camera with his approaching entourage, praying that the little flash went off when I asked it to. Not bad. I remember staring at him as he walked past me, that familiar face that I've only seen once before with my own eyes. The flashes of the cameras lit up his head and arms as he smiled and walked towards the ring. Fans screamed their love for him, and he politely smiled and nodded as much as he could towards the bombardment of compliments, softly saying thank-you's left and right.
Again my memory became nothing more than a bowl of mush as the fight began, as it was fought, and as it ended. Thank God we have pictures and videos to help us remember moments such as these, or I wouldn't believe October 21st was simply more than a Friday night dream.
Shortly after the 4 rounds, I found my way to the guarded locker room door that held Mike Tyson. I was waiting with only a small handful of people, all confirming what I had expected: A group of pretty girls, 3 or 4 young boys (much too young to have ever seen Mike Tyson win a fight live), and 5 or so press representatives. We waited for 20 minutes, all sharing our favorite memories of Iron Mike Tyson. We waited for 30 minutes, all smiling and quietly preparing for his greeting. We waited for 40 minutes, and the door finally opened. It wasn't Mike Tyson.
"He left." Said a man struggling to carry a large duffle bag from the locker room. "He left through the back door."
So I didn't get to meet Mike Tyson.
But to tell you the truth, I would rather almost meet Mike Tyson than actually meet anyone else I can think of at the moment. So there we tried.
However, in interesting retrospect, I don't think seeing Mike Tyson fight is what excites me the most anymore. What excites me the most about Mike Tyson now is the slight feeling that Mike Tyson is taking those baby steps, though ever so slowly, towards whatever it is that he needs to love life again.
Don't get me wrong, he's still Iron Mike Tyson.
After 20 years of human wonder, jabs may finally be able to swell his face.
Right hands may finally be able to cut his eyes.
Combinations and wrestling may finally be able to knock him down.
But Mike Tyson will NEVER lose.
It may have taken over two decades for me to realize the most important thing about Mike Tyson.
Iron were never his punches, for Iron was always his soul.
Now to get it out of the way, I am by no means a seasoned veteran at photography & all I had to use was a small non-dslr point and shoot, so I did my best with what I could for you guys
Members of the Armed Services prepare their march into the ring for the National Anthem
Corey Sanders getting ready to walk to the ring
Sanders again, walking to the ring amidst a hostile crowd
The legend himself, Iron Mike Tyson
Mike pacing inside the ring awaiting introductions
Lets get it on!
Iron Mike showed great head movement and quickness
Getting a drink while taking in Fenech's instructions
Last round! Oh my favorite ring girl of the night, how I hate to see you leave...
...but how I love to watch you go
Mike & Fenech tightly making their way back to the locker room
...well there it is guys. I was surprised at how well the picture of Mike's ringwalk turned out as I took a blind shot while holding the camera above my head to get a non-obstructed shot. I also have 2 video clips of action recorded [which can be seen in the TT-Video section].
World Tour Clip taken by BlakeSchneider
Tyson Vs Sanders
Click to view Video