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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Tyson reduced to Vegas turn
By Paul Birch in Las Vegas

Crowd waits for Mike Tyson in Las Vegas
A sparse crowd waits patiently for its hero at the Aladdin Casino

Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Liberace, Tom Jones, Siegfried and Roy - the list of entertainers to wow the infamous Strip in Las Vegas is long and illustrious.

The latest celebrity to see his name up in lights in the neon of the Nevada desert is none other than former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

The former "baddest man on the planet" has rolled his freak show into town and pitched his tent at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino.

Every lunchtime for two hours outside reception, "Tyson's Training Camp" sees Iron Mike haul his lumbering body around a ring for the edification of American tourists clad in Hawaiian shirts.

It is a depressing sight.

Vegas was the scene of some of Tyson's greatest triumphs, including his fearsome destruction of Trevor Berbick in 1986, when he became the youngest man to win a world heavyweight title at the age of 20.

Half a life-time on, and despite earning $400m (213m) during a crazy, chequered career, mounting debts mean he is now below one arm bandits and a giant, smoking genie on the Aladdin bill.

A Bank Holiday weekend saw Vegas packed to the rafters, yet the crowd around the makeshift ring barely caused a ripple among those wishing to check in or out of the hotel.

Mike Tyson spars in Las Vegas
Former world champion Jeff Fenech puts Tyson through his paces

Many casually played slot machines, others got stuck in at the bar, while the majority just took a quick snapshot before moving on to the next attraction.

As his few genuine fans patiently awaited Tyson's arrival, security guards buzzed around informing the crowd that he was having a shower, while members of his still bloated entourage paraded around the ring, catching the last rays of his reflected glory.

Whether this delay was a bid to whip up more interest, it certainly did not seem to have the desired effect as he made his way out of the lift to polite applause rather than the expected whooping and hollering.

One man from Florida, when asked by one of Tyson's entourage who his favourite fighter was, took an age before answering in an almost apologetic and whispered tone, "Mike Tyson".

Right answer as far as Tyson's camp were concerned, but the man's sheepish face spoke a thousand words.

Once he climbed into the ring his raw boxing power was clear to see but so was the extra weight he was carrying, poorly hidden beneath an oversized T-shirt.

Hitting the pads under the tutelage of Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech, Tyson looked every one of his 40 years as he went through a series of lacklustre combinations.

Lacking bounce in his trademark all-black boots, the sluggish way he moved around the ring betrayed a man whose love for the sport has gone.

Fenech was still encouraging, but Tyson's huffing and puffing indicated he would rather be on the other side of the ropes taking advantage of the casino's many temptations.

And many of the crowd felt the same, drifting off to be lured in by magic carpets, the Desert Passage shopping mall or a spot of Caribbean stud poker.

Tyson claims that he truly hates fighting and has a bad taste in his mouth from it, but fighting is all he knows and those debts are not going to go away.

So do not be surprised if this is the launch pad for another Tyson comeback.

Mike Tyson's career in pictures
12 Jun 05 |  Photo Galleries
Mike Tyson pays respects to Mao
03 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tyson quits boxing after defeat
12 Jun 05 |  Boxing
Williams shocks Tyson
31 Jul 04 |  Boxing

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