Promoter Confirms Mike Tyson Participation For PRIDE NYE Show

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Exhibition bout kicks off tour

Saturday, October 21, 2006


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Mike Tyson didn’t get knocked out early Saturday morning, nor did he quit.

But the embattled former heavyweight champion didn’t knock out former sparring partner Corey Sanders, either, much to the disappointment of a curious crowd of roughly 4,000 at the Chevrolet Centre.

Fans here booed loud and often as Tyson threw haymakers at an opponent who wore headgear and showed little initiative in their four-round exhibition, the debut of Tyson’s world tour.

Tyson didn’t wear headgear during his half-hearted return to the ring, but he did wear a white t-shirt supporting his former brother-in-law’s political campaign in Maryland. Tyson supported Sanders, too, when he appeared to hold up his 292-pound opponent after hurting him late in the first 2-minute round. He had knocked down Sanders with a right hand very early in the first round, but by the time they went to their corners fans jeered their combined performance.

The “retired” Tyson, who became the youngest heavyweight champion ever nearly 20 years ago, continued throwing ill-intentioned punches at the 6-foot-6 Sanders throughout the bout. He buckled Sanders’ knees with a left hook in the third round, but the booing continued until the relatively uneventful exhibition ended. The remaining fans cheered Tyson as he left the ring following interviews, however.

“I don’t know what’s going through anyone’s mind or what they’re looking for,” Sterling McPherson, Tyson’s tour promoter, said of the booing. “They well know that we didn’t try to fake anybody out or pull any wool over anybody’s eyes. This was an exhibition. But listen, people boo in real fights, and that’s their prerogative.”

The bout wasn’t scored and didn’t count on either man’s record, but the exhibition marked the first time Tyson fought in public since unheralded Irishman Kevin McBride made him quit after six rounds, 16 months ago in Washington.

“It was fun,” said Tyson, who didn’t reach the ring until nearly 12:30 a.m. “That’s my first time boxing since my last fight. I didn’t know how tough it would be.”

The 40-year-old Tyson intends to continue the tour next month in an American city, perhaps in Norfolk, Va.

McPherson confirmed, too, that Tyson will compete in his third exhibition on New Year’s Eve in China, as part of a Pride mixed martial arts pay-per-view event. Tyson will strictly box, but his fight will be televised as part of the Pride program. Sanders won’t be Tyson’s opponent for either of those two fights.

Organizers of this event didn’t announce an official attendance figure, but the Chevrolet Centre, configured for 7,000 for boxing, appeared to be slightly more than half full. The show, which included a seven-fight undercard, was also televised via pay-per-view for $29.95. The attendance and pay-per-view price were indications of how far Tyson has fallen after suffering shocking losses to British underdog Danny Williams in 2004 and McBride last year.

Tyson, who squandered all of the roughly $300 million he earned during his star-crossed career, reportedly still owes more than $20 million to an ex-wife, the Internal Revenue Service and numerous creditors. His earnings from this show won’t really help him get out of debt, though, and Tyson said he would donate much of his take to undisclosed charities.

Reach Keith Idec at 973-569-7073 or [email protected]