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Watch Mike's training session
Tyson's getting ready
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Fight promoter Frank Warren
"I think it will be a great event"
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Tyson's sparring partner Leroy Seals
"He's in beautiful condition"
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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 22:46 GMT
Tyson toys with media circus

Tyson Tyson keeps the media on their toes once again

By BBC Sports Correspondent Neil Bennett

If Mike Tyson is as elusive in the ring as he is outside it, his opponent on Saturday, Julius Francis, is in for a tough time. After following him on his travels around London, I finally got close enough to size up the former world heavyweight champion during one of his final training sessions.


Unpredictable is the theme of theTyson roadshow
Neil Bennett
The Tyson camp has set up in the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair and in the Court Suite on the ground floor, reporters and camera crews were let in for the first and only time before the fight.

The session was scheduled for 10.30 in the morning. Tyson finally gloved up and got into the ring at 1pm. Unpredictable has been the theme of the Tyson roadshow.

Jungle Warfare

In the two hours before that, soul music blared out from the speakers and a man in dark glasses and combat fatigues strutted round the room shouting at all and sundry that Tyson was coming and it was going to be jungle warfare.

The man is nicknamed Crocodile and he is one of the most prominent of the Tyson camp followers. That is quite something as these are all very prominent people. Big, no-nonsense types.

Boxer Leroy Seals spars with Tyson - and the press
Tyson skipped with a rope for a bit. He then spent about half an hour getting oiled up and having his boots and gloves laced up.

He then did four rounds shadow boxing and punching the gloves of his trainer.


He is not a tall man. But he is squat and powerful and lighting fast in the punch.

He may not be the Mike Tyson of the mid- eighties but he is not a man you would want to argue with.

The session lasted little more than an hour and then Tyson was gone - where to nobody was quite sure.

He has spent a lot of time shopping and a little time on the streets of Brixton in south London.

Nobody ever knows where he wants to go next as he changes his mind every half hour.


Brixton was a good example of the way the Tyson circus works.

He was supposed to show up at a local radio station in the morning. He was also expected at any one of three mosques in London for Friday prayers. He did go to the mosque in Regent Park but then by-passed all the other venues and ended up holding court from the balcony of Brixton police station.

Manchester Awaits

Manchester doesn't know what to expect.

A tour of Moss Side - one of its inner city ghettoes is on the cards. There is definitely a news conference with Francis and the weigh-in. They are meant to drum up interest.

But the promoters have had publicity money can't buy from this fight. Labour politicians, particularly the Home Secretary Jack Straw, have seen to that.

No Chance

What sort of shape is Tyson in for the fight?

Nobody can give you a straight answer. One of his sparring partners, Leroy Seals, says Tyson has been hitting him pretty hard and that Julius Francis has not got a chance.

I was going to ask the man himself about the prospects for the fight.

He was supposed to come over and answer a few questions after the training session. But he changed his mind, surprise, surprise.

Some other time then, Mike.

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See also:
25 Jan 00 |  Sport
Tyson wants another UK bout
21 Jan 00 |  UK
Crowds mob Tyson
22 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson praised after walkabout
23 Jan 00 |  UK
Women MPs KO Tyson visit

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