Classic Irish boxing- Nov 2004: Mike Tyson to fight in Ireland?
November 25th, 2004 – by Tomás Rohan
I’m not sure what to make of the latest “Tyson to fight in Dublin” story but the Boy who cried Wolf comes to mind. It’s been rumoured so many times before and who knows this time it might actually happen.
I’ve got to admit I’m more than a little sceptical about the latest rumour linking “Iron Mike” to a fight in our capital city. On paper it looks pretty good, Tyson’s trainer the highly regarded Freddie Roach told the Sunday Life’s David Kelly, “I’ve spoken to him about fighting in Dublin and he loves the idea. His promoter Shelly Finkel is also keen and I’ve spoken to Bernard Dunne’s manager Brian Peters about putting it on.”
But before you get in the queue for tickets remember this is Mike Tyson we are taking about and where Tyson is involved nothing is ever simple. Roach’s plan is to have Tyson go on a European tour, get some wins under his belt before yet another attempt at regaining his former glory. This all seems like a logical enough plan, Tyson needs money to pay off his many creditors and to the paying public he remains something of a novelty. American fight fans have become increasingly wary of the Tyson circus in recent years and are a little more cautious about shelling out their dollars on Iron Mike. European’s however have no such concerns maybe if for nothing else than to have the opportunity to tell our grandkids, “yeah, I went to see Mike Tyson fight.”
So given that I’ve established it as a logical plan why do I still harbour doubts? Well while Freddie Roach and Shelley Finkel have clearly thought this through there is precious little evidence to suggest that Tyson has given it more than a passing thought. Roach has said that Tyson “loves the idea”. I love the idea of me winning the lottery but that doesn’t mean it’s about to happen.
In fact recent reports and media sightings of Tyson have given us no indication that he’s about to enquire at the Irish embassy as to the visa entry requirements for ex-cons. Instead he’s been keeping a relatively low profile showing his face at the odd fight and spending some time in California with Hall of Fame legend, Roberto Duran.
At no time during any of these brief sightings did Tyson give us any indication of his future plans. Even in a lengthy TV interview in the U.S. on Monday evening Tyson was very circumspect and seemed more inclined to talk about his new mellow self rather than enlighten the viewers as to when we might see him back in the ring.
While Roach has been floating the idea of a European tour Tyson’s friend and former World Champion Jeff Fenech has said he wants to promote a Tyson fight in Australia. When asked in Monday’s interview if a visit Down Under was possible Tyson replied with a simple “yes” but he had nothing else to say on the subject.
Bubbling away in the background recently has been a simmering feud between the former heavyweight champ and manager Shelly Finkel. That came to a head when Tyson held a conference call with Finkel that was transcribed for publication on BoxingTalk.net (It makes for a rambling but intriguing read and can be found here.
When you add all of the above to the fact that Tyson is still recovering from the knee injury suffered in his drubbing by Danny Williams last July you have to wonder if he has any interest in climbing back into the ring. Probably not but as mentioned earlier his creditors certainly want to see Tyson gloved up. The one time “Baddest man on the Planet” owes money and a lot of it and let’s face it he can’t sing or dance. Getting back in the ring is the only chance he has of paying back his debts so retirement is not an option. A European tour beginning in Ireland or a fight in Australia are options that Finkel and Roach are considering even if Tyson isn’t.
Of course if Tyson does fight in Ireland the selected opponent with be Monaghan heavyweight Kevin McBride. The U.S. based McBride you will remember was first choice for Tyson’s last fight until Frank Warren offered cheaper labour in the shape of his charge, Danny Williams. The Sports Network chief called Finkel to offer Williams’ services at a cut price rate, reported to be 50% of the purse that McBride had already agreed to. So Williams got the gig and the rest is history. While the Brixton man is now counting down the days to his World title fight with Vitali Klitschko McBride has not fought since being stood up by Tyson.
However it now appears that Finkel has learned his lesson and will not pass on McBride next time out. A Tyson fight in Ireland against an Irishman is a sure fire sell out with the public here having been starved of big fights in recent years. Chances are it would sell out the Point in Dublin, probably the only indoor arena capable of holding such an event.
And lets be honest this would be one hell of an event for Dublin. Boxing fans of course will take the high moral ground and say that Tyson’s finished and only a fool would part with his/her money to see him. Maybe but the fact remains, Tyson is still the biggest attraction in boxing. Sad but true, even after his loss to Williams there is no one else in boxing who can generate the kind of media frenzy Tyson can.
Most people no longer watch a Tyson fight expecting him to end it with that raw speed and power that once made him such a destructive force. Now people watch as voyeurs, like they are watching a car crash. Sure they’ll take a spectacular knockout but secretly they hope Tyson will just “go nuts” in there and reach yet another spectacular low in his career. And if none of that happens they’ll settle for seeing him knocked out by some unheard of fighter who can add to his reputation on the back of the unfolding tragedy that is Mike Tyson. Either way the watching public don’t care they know they’ll be entertained by the Tyson soap drama. And you know what it sure beats watching John Ruiz defend his WBA title.
Anyway I’m getting carried away with it all; fact is at the moment Tyson reckons fighting in Ireland sounds like a good idea. Lets wait until we know more than that before crying wolf again.