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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 22:57 GMT 23:57 UK


Tyson bides his time

Tyson: boxing's biggest box office draw

Mike Tyson is keeping the boxing world in suspense by not immediately applying for the reinstatement of his license to fight on the first day after the end of a one-year ban.

The former world heavyweight champion was banned from the ring after biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield's ear.

[ image: Holyfield needed plastic surgery on his ear]
Holyfield needed plastic surgery on his ear
Having served his punishment, "Iron Mike" was free to re-apply to the Nevada Athletic Commission for his licence from Thursday.

But Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel told reporters: "It's not going to happen today.

"It's not been determined when we will apply. At this point, it's up in the air."

Tyson is one of the most controversial characters in the history of boxing.

He stormed onto the world scene in the mid-1980s, becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history at the age of 21 and demolishing fighters such as Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes.

Jailed for rape

Tyson's first reign ended in 1991 when he lost to Buster Douglas - one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport - and he was later jailed for raping a beauty queen.

Iron Mike, who maintained his innocence throughout, was freed three years later and came back into the ring to regain two versions of the world title with victories over Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon.

Critics said the new Tyson was flawed - slower than the original and with a poorer defence - and they were proved right when Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield stopped him in November 1996.

Eagerly awaited rematch

The eagerly awaited rematch was only three rounds old when a frustrated Tyson, who later claimed he had been headbutted by Holyfield, spat his gumshield out and bit his opponent's right ear.

[ image: Evander hard feelings]
Evander hard feelings
Referee Mills Lane warned him but seconds later he did it again and this time ripped off an inch-long piece of flesh.

The howling Holyfield was awarded the fight and Tyson was disqualified and later suspended.

Women's rights activists, still bitter at Tyson's refusal to admit he was guilty of rape, are among those campaigning to prevent the 30-year-old New Yorker regaining his licence.

'Tidal wave of public outrage'

The Nevada chapter of the National Organisation for Women has called for a "tidal wave of public outrage" to persuade the Nevada commission not to give Tyson his license back.

The chapter's president, Anne Golonko, said: "He was convicted of rape, bit off another boxer's ear and has shown not the slightest remorse for any of his violent actions."

Perhaps surprisingly, Holyfield, the WBA and IBF champion, is backing Tyson's return to the ring.

But then Holyfield-Tyson III would probably earn each man £30m.

'He has paid the price'

Holyfield, whose ear was repaired by a plastic surgeon, says he feels Tyson has paid the price for the ear-munching incident.

The 36-year-old evangelical Christian said: "He was fined $3m plus. He's been out for a year and it could have earned $15-20m in purses in that time.

"I have spoken to him but it's been a long time since we shook hands."

[ image: Don King: Tyson's former mentor now an enemy]
Don King: Tyson's former mentor now an enemy
Tyson earned around $5m for a gimmicky stunt as a World Wrestling Federation referee, but would no doubt earn many times more than that from a proper return to the ring.

Since the Holyfield fight Tyson has broken with promoter Don King - who on Thursday was acquitted of several of a series of charges connected to an alleged insurance fraud relating to another fighter - and trainers John Horne and Rory Holloway.

He has filed lawsuits in a bid to extract himself from contractual ties to the trio.

Tyson is back in training, close to his fighting weight and reportedly ready to resume his career in October - if his licence is returned.

'Boxing needs Mike Tyson'

Nobody knows whether the Nevada commission will decide Tyson is rehabilitated, but a member of the body, Glen Carano, said this week: "Boxing needs Mike Tyson, the question is whether boxing can stand Mike Tyson.

"If he wants to start fighting again, then we'll review the evidence."

If Tyson does get his licence back he will need a few warm up fights before facing Holyfield again.

[ image: Joe Bugner...long in the tooth]
Joe Bugner...long in the tooth
One prospective opponent who has been touted for Tyson is the 48-year-old Joe Bugner, who won the lightly regarded WBF title in a pathetic farce in Australia at the weekend.

True boxing fans will pray Tyson and Bugner - who promised to retire two years ago after being pounded to defeat by Britain's Scott Welch, are never allowed in the same ring together.

Tyson's critics hope he is never allowed in any ring but boxing being what it is they may well be disappointed.

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