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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 01:03 GMT
Tyson becomes 'decent human'
Mike Tyson (left) extends a hand to Clifford Etienne at Tuesday's media conference
Tyson (left) was friendly towards Etienne on Tuesday
Mike Tyson believes he has put his wild days behind him and become "a decent human being".

The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was speaking as he announced a fight against IBA title holder Clifford Etienne in Memphis, Tennessee, on 22 February.

Since being jailed for rape Tyson has seen attempted comebacks delayed by indiscretions like biting Evander Holyfield's ear during a fight and brawling at a media conference with Lennox Lewis.

Tyson retained some of his old enigmatic ways by refusing to disclose what has changed to make him shrug off his "stupid" ways.

But he did say it was his personal life that had sparked the "transformation".


Mike Tyson can still beat 99 percent of the heavyweights out there
Clifford Etienne

"I feel good. I'm just very happy and tired of being stupid," said the 35-year-old, who will meet Etienne in the same arena which saw him heavily beaten by Lewis on 8 June.

That fight was dogged by bad feeling between Tyson and Lewis but the notorious former champion tried to display his new persona by playfully patting Etienne's shoulder during his latest news conference.

"Things basically have come together in my personal life," he said. "I just feel so much good about my transformation and just forming to be a decent human being."

Now Tyson says he wants to fight purely to earn money - rather than exorcise any demons.

"We've all got to live. We've got to make a living ... I don't have to be a cold-blooded mean individual on the streets just to be a great fighter," he said.

Mike Tyson pictured during the brawl in Las Vegas which preceded his fight against Lennox Lewis
Tyson's demeanour before the Lewis fight was very different

But Tyson maintained that his new outlook would not change the explosive ring style which has intimidated opponents since he became the youngest ever heavyweight champion at the age of 20.

That will not faze Etienne, who managed to tie his last fight against Francois Botha on 27 July.

"Mike Tyson can still beat 99 percent of the heavyweights out there," Etienne said.

"I just feel like I'm in that one percent that he can't beat and I'm going to show it."


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