|Volume 92, Issue 61
Friday, January 15, 1999
The return of Tyson is gold mine for boxing
As one of the world's greatest athletes leaves the stage, one of the most infamous returns.
On Wednesday, Michael Jordan announced his retirement and tomorrow Mike Tyson returns to the squared circle after more than a year off due to his ear-biting outburst against Evander Holifield.
For the umpteenth time, Mike Tyson will be back in the ring trying to again prove to his naysayers he is not the animal he is portrayed a difficult task considering his line of work.
Tyson again claims he is a changed man. His opponent, is a virtual unknown, Frans Botha, despite his 39-1 win-loss record.
Tyson is the anti-Jordan. He's uncomfortable with the media and believes the public thinks the worst of him (probably true, but he doesn't help himself). In his off time he doesn't golf but gets into scraps with people at stop lights and has run-ins with the police.
When people say they "want to be like Mike," they most certainly do not mean Tyson.
The irony is Tyson brings as much publicity, positive or negative, to this sport as Jordan. People will pay more than 30 bucks a crack to watch Tyson during his pay-per-view bouts. He is a cash cow for promoters, boxing and even his opponents.
Botha has been thrown into the limelight with his upcoming match with Iron Mike and he's loving every minute. He claims he isn't scared of the deranged lunatic and believes he has the tools to beat Tyson.
Tyson claims he's a new man and that he's going to be getting back to his old style, which includes quick, furious starts. Either way, boxing is back where it wants to be, in the headlines.
In a sport where crime and scandal seem to rule, Tyson is the perfect poster boy. No matter how many times they try to inject some positive life into boxing with the likes of Oscar Dela Hoya, they will never shake their image of back room dealings.
Boxing is a business more than any other sport and most people involved in the sport, outside of the boxers themselves, probably know no other way as they are in it to make money.
That's why they love Mike Tyson. He brings interest and with it, money. People will watch even if they're not boxing aficionados because they either want to see him punish some ham and egger or they want to see the demise of the former champ.
People love to hate Tyson, but what the promoters care about is they love to watch him.
Tyson may not bring the type of publicity Jordan has to basketball but it's publicity none the less. He doesn't sell merchandise and there is not a company on the planet which would want him endorsing a product of theirs, but somehow he manages to get paid millions of dollars per fight a fraction of what is made on the whole event.
He's a convicted rapist and a proven thug. He's not liked by many and loathed by many more, but he makes money and in the sport of boxing that's all that matters.
John Dinner can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999