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Tyson Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Journeyman Lou gets his chance
Savarese and Whitaker
Lou Savarese struggles against Lance Whitaker
By BBC Sport Online's Sanjeev Shetty.

A professional boxer for 11 years, Lou Savarese is not what you would call a household name.

But boxing insiders will tell you that he is at least more dangerous a proposition for Mike Tyson than Britain's Julius Francis.

Like Tyson, he is from New York, although the similarities tend to end there.

In his past Savarese was a problem child, who would often end up in school yard scrapes and brawls. The 34-year-old now regards those days as moments of stupidity, but it focused him on what would become a career.

Savarese and Whitaker
Savarese: Sometimes durable, sometimes vulnerable
As he moved into his teens, the son of a taxi driver began fighting as an amateur on a regular basis.

In 1985, he captured a New York Golden Gloves title by defeating future contender and Tyson opponent Alex Stewart.

Future heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe prevented him from making the Seoul Olympics of 1988 by beating him in the trials.

Pro terms

That defeat was the cue to turn professional, which he did in April 1989. In comparison, Tyson was already the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and a year younger.

A white heavyweight was then, and is now, a valuable commodity. During those early years of his career, Savarese enjoyed a serious amount of publicity.

Savarese
Savarese took a beating at the hands of Grant
By the end of 1991, he had amassed 25 victories, most coming via knockout. Although he was not yet considered ready for the upper echelons of the heavyweight division, there was a belief that he could join the pack within the next year to 18 months.

But the next five years would see Savarese stuck in career limbo.

After averaging eight fights a year, he would struggle to box more than three times a year.

By the end of 1996 he was nearly a forgotten man in heavyweight boxing. But a seven-round knockout of Buster Mathis Jnr, a Tyson opponent the year before, put him in a position to take on the veteran George Foreman.

Tough reputation

On 26 April 1997, Savarese gave the fighting grandfather all he could handle for 12 rounds, ultimately losing a 12-round split decision.

Despite defeat, his reputation for durability was enhanced and his matchmakers, who had been tentative before, were now prepared to be slightly bolder. This would not work to Big Lou's advantage.

Six months after the Foreman bout, Savarese was knocked out in five rounds by David Izon.

While he had been able to withstand the blows of the ageing Foreman, he had been comprehensively destroyed by a journeyman pro.

There was now a need for Savarese to post an eye-catching win which would propel him into the contender league that he had inhabited very briefly.

In June 1998, he took just one round to knock out Tyson conqueror James 'Buster' Douglas.

Although this version of Douglas was older, slower and heavier than the one that shocked 'Iron' MIke, the win was impressive enough given that Douglas was being lined up for a rematch with Tyson.

Struggle

Savarese had just two fights in 1999 - a life-and-death struggle with huge American Lance 'Mount' Whitaker in which he prevailed and a 10-round defeat at the hands of Michael Grant, who would later lose to Lennox Lewis .

At 6ft 5ins and 240lbs, Savarese has the size to make life difficult for Tyson.

But worryingly, he has shown vulnerability at the hands of men not regarded as concussive hitters - he suffered knockdowns against Izon, Whitaker and Grant.

If there is any problem with his chin, Tyson, no matter how removed from his prime, will exploit it.

Tyson in Scotland
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