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Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 10:49 GMT


Botha 'to die' says Tyson

Mike Tyson: Controversy continues to dog the former champion

Mike Tyson has shocked the boxing world by stating that he expects his next opponent, Francois Botha, "to die" when they meet on January 16 in Las Vegas.

BBC News 24's Paul Wright reports
This latest controversial comment comes after a turbulent few months for the former world heavyweight champion, who successfully overcame calls that he is not in the appropriate mental shape to continue his career.

Tyson lost his temper at a press conference, and eventually rounded on the American media, delivering a four-letter word monologue.

It is not the first time that Tyson has courted controversy through his pre-fight comments. After his boxing licence was re-instated in late 1998 following his ban for biting Evander Holyfield's ears, he told the media that when he was fit and healthy he would "put people in bags".

[ image: The bite that kept Tyson out of the ring for over a year]
The bite that kept Tyson out of the ring for over a year
Irrespective of whether he is successful against South African fighter Botha in his first bout in more than 18 months, the convicted rapist could soon find himself back in jail.

He pleaded no contest to assault charges stemming from a traffic accident in Maryland last August, and depending on how the sentencing affects the conditions of his parole, he could find himself spending up to 20 years in jail.

However, Tyson seems unperturbed. "I don't know anybody who stays out of trouble for 20 years. I may not live for 20 years." he said.

Tyson has begun his latest campaign with a new manager and trainer in an effort to move away from the bad man image he created during his years of association with Don King, but these latest comments are bound to incense his growing band of critics.

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