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Mike Tyson: A New Chapter
By Sean Gadd (July 29, 2004) 
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Can Mike Tyson regain the world heavyweight championship? Has Tyson really got his life together? How many more chances can one man get?

You may be thinking to yourself, are we really still asking these questions? The fact is, one way or another, fight fans world wide are once again focused on the man from Catskill, New York. Mike Tyson is without a doubt, one of the most controversial stars the sport has ever had. We love Tyson. We hate Tyson. We sometimes even live and breathe Tyson. We can not escape Mike Tyson. Mikey is our crazy relative that always gets himself in trouble, but no matter what he does, we bail him out. He’s family.

This Friday, the story of Mike Tyson opens a new chapter. This part of the saga is not supposed to be as dark as some of the previous chapters we’ve had to endure. In this chapter, Mikey goes back to his roots. ‘The Tyson freak show’ has closed. Tyson has now axed his notorious entourage that included trainer Stacey McKinley and the out spoken team cheerleader who goes by the name of ‘Crocodile’. This time Mike prepares at a modest training camp in Phoenix, Arizona with new trainer Freddy Roach and a few of Tyson’s friends that go all the way back to the days of Cus D’Amato. The ex-champion now trains in an open gym in preparation for his next fight, and lets the press roam freely, while being very accommodating. Tyson seems to be making all the right noises and even accepts that he has wasted vital years in his professional career, years that he can never get back, but this does not stop the former two time world heavyweight champion from setting himself new and realistic goals.

Mike Tyson goes up against Danny Williams, in the town where Muhammad Ali was born, Louisville, Kentucky. Williams is regarded by many as a British underachiever; a fighter who seems to switch off during fights and very often fights within himself. Williams comes from Brixton, London, the very place where Tyson received an unforgettable hero’s welcome four-and-a-half years ago. The Tyson we see now seems a world away from the Mike Tyson that came to the UK in January 2000. The Tyson that came to England, to fight Julius Francis, had a huge entourage and a storm seemed to follow him where ever he went. Unfortunately, Williams will probably never have that reception in Brixton; in fact, he would be happy if a handful of people recognised him while walking the streets of South London.

Times were not always so hard for Williams; the Londoner was regarded as a good heavyweight prospect that was being talked about as a future challenger to WBA champion John Ruiz or IBF titleholder Chris Byrd. That was until Danny was blown out in six rounds by the hard-hitting Sinan Samil Sam of Turkey. Since then Williams’ career has seemed to go off the rails. Williams suffered even more disappointment when he lost a narrow decision to British rival Michael Sprott. A clear indication that Williams was losing hope in the fight game was the fact that he had stopped Sprott on two previous occasions. At age 31 Williams’ record is now 31 wins, 3 losses with 26 knockouts. Since losing to Sprott, Williams has won two low key fights against mediocre opposition. It took Williams less than a round to stop Ratko Draskovic in April and he defeated Augustin N’Gou within three rounds in May. Having two fights this year Williams has been the more active fighter of the two and Danny can do with every advantage he can get right now. Williams has never faced a fighter of Tyson’s stature or talent, and while this may be a dream fight for Danny Williams’, this dream may not turn out the way it did a thousand times before in the mind of Danny Williams. There is no doubting that Danny believes he has a chance of winning the fight, after all every heavyweight knows that Mike Tyson is not the ‘Iron’ Mike we remember from the late 80’s. Every living fighter is aware of the riches and recognition that would come from derailing the ex champion, but this challenge may turn out to simply be a ‘fools dream’ for the Englishman.

Since Mike Tyson lost his world title bid to Lennox Lewis in June 2002 he has had one fight, against fellow American Clifford Etienne. The fight only lasted 49 seconds, so it was very hard to gauge what Tyson is doing new since taking a beating at the hands of Lewis. The fight was finished with as good as a right hook you were likely to see last year, but we always knew Tyson hits with devastating power and in the world of boxing, its common knowledge that the last thing a fighter loses is his punch.

Mike Tyson’s fight record is now 50 wins, 4 losses and 44 knockouts (2 no contests). He is 38 years old and still fighting. Ideally, Tyson will get a few rounds under his belt and look good before finishing his man in typical Tyson fashion. But we all know it is not an ideal world that we live in, so Mike needs to be one hundred percent focused on his opponent and not take anything for granted. In an ideal world Tyson would never have lost to Douglas in Tokyo, in an ideal world he would never have served time in prison, in an ideal world Tyson would have his financial situation in order and in an ideal world, Mike Tyson would be retired by now. But this is the real world, and the Tyson story is a far more interesting one because of it. It is also in the real world that Tyson has been given another chance and until we see otherwise, Mikey seems to be doing alright. Maybe he wasn’t lying when he said after the Lewis fight, “I feel like I’ve been beaten up and baptised”.

So as Tyson finishes getting prepared for his next fight. Let’s just hope he stays on course, if not for his sake, then for the sake of the reputation of the sport.

How long can the new look Tyson last before he goes back to his controversial path of self-destruction? Will Tyson stay focused? One thing we should have learnt about Tyson by now is that you cannot second guess him, but let us just enjoy the Tyson we have now and just wait to see where the chapters of the next few years take us. I have a feeling that like many good tales, this one will end with an unexpected twist.

We can not be certain that Mike will ever become world heavyweight champion again, but you can bet your last dime that if Tyson stays focused, he will get another shot at the biggest prize in sport and probably in no time at all.

People sometimes say that to get certain jobs it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know, and you could make a case that the same rule applies to the world heavyweight championship.

It’s about who you know, and we all know Mike Tyson.
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