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Tyson Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Make or break for Tyson
Lewis
A potential fight with Lewis may depend upon Saturday's outcome
The BBC's boxing correspondent, John Rawling, believes the future of Mike Tyson will be ultimately decided in next Saturday's clash with fellow American Lou Savarese.

The jury is still out on Mike Tyson. Is Iron Mike really capable of challenging the best heavyweights in the world, notably Lennox Lewis.

Or is he just touring the world facing tame opponents and helping to perpetrate some form of monstrous promotional con-trick based on past glories and notoriety for his actions outside the ring as much as in it?

The fight against the 6' 5" American Lou Savarese should go some way towards providing an answer when the two men meet at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on June 24 in front of a huge open air crowd.

Feared fighter

A decade or more has now gone since the prime of Mike Tyson, when he rampaged through a mediocre heavyweight division to become the most feared fighter in the world.

Tyson
Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield's ear

Defeat at the hands of James Buster Douglas in 1990 exploded the myth of his invincibility, a fallibility confirmed by Holyfield when he gave the former champion a bad beating when they fought for the first time in 1996.

Since then, Tyson has figured in the infamous second Holyfield fight when he was facing the prospect of another defeat and chose instead to bite a chunk out of his opponent's ear in one of the most shameful incidents ever seen in a championship fight.

He was banned from boxing, and returned in January last year to score an unconvincing win against the brave but limited South African Frans Botha, but was jailed for a road rage incident involving two middle aged motorists whom he assaulted.

With huge debts outside the ring, he had little option but to fight on.

Tired

A contest against a blown up cruiserweight Orlin Norris provoked a fresh outrage when Tyson hit his man after the bell to end the second round and Norris was unable to continue, leaving the referee to declare that it was a no-contest.

Tyson
Tyson hit Botha after the bell

America, especially Las Vegas, his home town, seemed to have tired of the 34-year-old former champion, so the show has come on the road.

Twenty-one thousand tickets were sold out in the space of just 48 hours for his British debut at Manchester's MEN Arena against Julius Francis, who Tyson predictably brutalised inside the space of two rounds.

This time Hampden Park seems likely to attract more than 40,000 fans to watch his fight with Savarese to make it the biggest live gate in British boxing since Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn squared up for the second time at Old Trafford, Manchester, seven years ago.

Defensive qualities

Savarese, 35, is big and strong with just three defeats in 42 pro-fights, including a controversial points loss against another former champion George Foreman and a decision defeat after a gruelling 10 rounds against Lennox Lewis' most recent challenger Michael Grant.

The likeable Italian-American, who recently became a father for the first time, knows this is likely to be his last chance to earn himself a title shot and can be sure to give a brave customary brave performance.

Tyson may have lost much of his old mobility- witness the Botha fight, when he made the South African look like Muhammed Ali before producing a stunning right hook to score a knock out - but he can still punch, and Savarese has never been known for his defensive qualities.

Tyson was devastated by the death of a close friend in a shooting the week before he arrived in Britain and would probably prefer if the fight was postponed.

But, if he can keep his mind on the job at hand, I believe he will catch up with Savarese around the sixth round to get the spectacular win he needs to keep up pressure for a multi-million dollar showdown with Lewis.

See also:

21 Jun 00 | Sport
16 Jun 00 | Sport
15 Jun 00 | Sport
09 Jun 00 | Sport
Links to more Tyson stories are at the foot of the page.


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