SAN DIEGO, August 23, 2013 – Mike Tyson, one of the most feared and successful heavyweight boxers in the ring, is returning to the sport. Fortunately for the Hall of Famer’s would-be opponents, it’s as a promoter and not a fighter.
Tyson’s “Iron Mike Productions” stages its first event Friday night on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” from the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. The televised bouts get underway at 9 p.m. ET. It’s called “Tyson Is Back!”
The final FNF of the season features two world championship bouts. The main event puts IBF super featherweight champion Argenis “La Tormenta” Mendez (21-2, 11 KOs) of the Domincan Republic up for a title defense against Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs), who is from Afghanistan but now fighting out of Montreal. In the co-feature, another Dominican, WBA featherweight Claudio “The Matrix” Marrero (14-0, 11 KOs) takes on Jesus Cueller (22-1, 18 KOs) of Argentina. Both are 12 round contests.
Stop and enjoy the juxtaposition of powerhouse heavyweight Tyson promoting featherweight contests. It’s allowed.
Tyson says he’s glad his own days in the ring are over. “I never want to be back in the ring. I understand what these guys are going through. We want to be known for being worthy but most fighters are shy,” said Tyson.
Tyson’s life has seen an amazing turnaround after years of struggling with addiction, criminal behavior, and extremely poor judgment about money. He staged a successful one-man Broadway show with his fellow New Yorker, director Spike Lee. It received numerous positive reviews and is now being made into an HBO special. He is a clean living vegan and family man, a student of history and thoughtful about his past.
To hear Tyson today is to hear a man who has figured out how to beat his demons. As he’s said about himself, he’s finally winning the fight of life. “I’m very grateful to be here. That’s what I’m trying to convey is gratitude. This is just a wonderful thing,” said Tyson.
Tyson was asked if he believes he’s a positive influence helping the sport. “I like the sound of that stuff that I’m helping the sport, giving back to people. But that’s not true,” said Tyson. “We have to not take bribes and steal decisions. The only way I can give back is for the officials to give back as well. We have to be honest with ourselves and honest with our fans. These guys are fighting for their life and they should be fighting on even terms.”
Tyson suggested that fans choose opponents for fighters, not the promoters. He suggested fans use Twitter to choose the next foe for the winner of the main event, perhaps Yuriorkis Gamboa (although he forgot his name, calling him “that Cuban guy”).
Tyson’s wild side occasionally pops up, but these days the anger is gone, replaced by a vicious sense of humor. He had news media roaring with laughter at times during the pre-fight news conference on Thursday. As he answered questions about himself, Tyson said to those assembled, “I need one of these fighters to come up and say I want to kill him, talk about his mother or something. I want you to talk about his mother. We gotta sell tickets! This guy’s a bomber, but he’s a gentleman” said Tyson, referring to the fighters in the main event.
Tyson approaches boxing as a promoter from his experience as a young fighter who didn’t have control of his own affairs. “I don’t own anybody. Those days are over,” Tyson said. “These guys are associated with the company but they’re their own individuals. I can’t stop nobody from abusing himself, because they couldn’t stop me from abusing myself.
“What I can do is give this champion his check personally. His manager won’t get it. He can give it is to his crappy ass manager … but before that, his crappy ass manager won’t get the check from me. He’ll get the check from him? Right champ?” Tyson went on to drop some colorful language not fit for a family website. No matter how civilized Tyson the man becomes, he’ll always be a colorful character.
ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” airs on ESPN2 tonight, August 23, at 9 p.m. Eastern.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read Ringside Seat in Communities, follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter at @PRProSanDiego Gayle can be reached via Google +
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