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Sunday, January 17, 1999 Published at 10:39 GMT


Rusty Tyson finds the perfect punch

Tyson finally caught up with Botha in the fifth round

Mike Tyson ended 19 months of inactivity with a fifth-round knockout of Francois Botha at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

John Rawling: "Every young heavyweight will fancy their chances" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The bout proved that while the former two-time champion may have lost a lot of his skills, he still has the punch to get him out of trouble, despatching his opponent with a short but deadly right hand which deposited the South African on the canvas.

And Tyson's post fight quotes indicate that the convicted rapist is still battling his inner demons.

BBC Correspondent Ben Monro-Davies: Tyson's win guarantees more big pay-days
"Show me respect and stop writing trash about me then I'll show you respect," he said.

"I'm a man. I lived it and I'm not afraid to die but when I die I'm going to paradise and I'm not worried," he added.

"I'm in no hurry to die but no-one is going to disrespect me or write nonsense about me without me retaliating back," said Tyson.

Tyson and Botha continue fighting after the bell (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Before the finish, Tyson had looked amateurish, and had seemed on the verge of being disqualified again.

The fight got off to a bizarre start when, after a fairly quiet first round, the fighters refused to break at the sound of the bell. Around 20 people, including security guards and police were needed to break the two as they continued to trade punches. It had seemed at one point that Tyson was trying to break Botha's right arm.

[ image: Mike Tyson has a point deducted by Richard Steele]
Mike Tyson has a point deducted by Richard Steele
An unsettled Tyson had a point taken away for using his elbow after a break in the second round. By this stage of the fight, Tyson had a small cut above his right eye, and the bout seemed to be following the same course as the infamous Holyfield fight, where Tyson was disqualified for biting his opponent's ear.

They continued after the bell again, and referee Richard Steele was forced to lecture both fighters.

By the third round, it was clear that Tyson was a shadow of the fighter he used to be.

Mike Tyson: "An awful lot of rust" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Botha was confident enough to mock Tyson by carrying his hands by his waist and inviting the New Yorker to hit him. The South African, nicknamed the White Buffalo, was having success with his jabs and even had the temerity to land the occasional wild right.

The fight continued in that vein through the fourth, with little in the way of clean punching, although Tyson did land a couple of eye-catching jabs.

[ image: Referee Richard Steele counts the dreaded ten]
Referee Richard Steele counts the dreaded ten
By the start of the fifth, most ringside observers had Botha in front. The South African was controlling the tempo of the fight, and seemed to be growing in confidence.

As it transpired, it was probably over confidence.

Botha allowed Tyson to close the distance between them, and as he set himself to throw a punch of his own, Tyson landed that perfect right hand. Botha tried to get up, but found his legs would not do what his head was telling them. Steele finished the count of 10 with the stricken fighter falling through the ropes.

Mike Tyson knocks out Francois Botha (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Tyson's record improves to 46 wins and three defeats, with 40 of those wins by knockout, while Botha drops to 39 wins and two defeats, with one no-contest.

Tyson's adviser Shelly Finkel said that Tyson should be back in the ring by April, although no venue or opponent has been settled.

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