|Thursday, 24 January 2002|
Boxing-Tyson to be questioned about brawl
LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Wednesday (Reuters) Mike Tyson will have to answer questions about the brawl he triggered with undisputed champion Lennox Lewis during a news conference if he is to be issued a boxing license, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) said on Tuesday.
The mass brawl took place as the two fighters were attending a news conference to announce the final details of their proposed world heavyweight title match-up.
The two were standing on podiums on a stage at the front of the venue when Tyson suddenly walked across towards Lewis and appeared to throw a punch at a man standing close to the Briton causing a fight involving around 20 other men to break out.
Without the license, the richest fight in boxing history with a projected purse of $150 million set for April 6 at the MGM Grand, cannot go ahead.
Tyson is expected to attend the NSAC hearing next Tuesday and must convince at least three of the five members that he is fit to obtain a license.
The Commission could turn down Tyson's request on the grounds that he is not mentally fit to fight.
The former champion is also currently investigation by the Las Vegas police for an alleged rape.
The last time Tyson fought for a title at the MGM Grand on June 28, 1997, he was disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield's ears.
"It (the brawl) will be another factor the commission will have to take under consideration," said Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "They can certainly ask him questions about it at the licensing hearing next Tuesday.
"They can ask him all kinds of questions."
Amid scenes reminiscent of Chicago in the 1920s the conference was abandoned and Tyson appeared to suffer a wound to his left temple.
Lewis, 36, is the holder of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) belts while former champion Tyson, 35, is the number one WBC contender.
"Everything went so fast that I felt like a referee in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Lewis promoter Gary Shaw.
"Mike charged Lennox and I got hit in the back and the front.
"I'm hoping the fight will still happen on April 6," Shaw said. "But that is up to the Nevada Commission and I can't speak for them. This could have been a cowardly way for Mike to avoid fighting Lennox."
It was the second time in as many championship bouts involving Lewis that the pre-fight hype has exploded into a brawls.
Lewis also wrestled with Hasim Rahman during a press conference to promote their April rematch in Las Vegas, in which the Briton won back his WBC and IBF titles with a devastating fourth round knockout.
"What disappoints us more than anything was that there was no security at this press conference in New York and this was a completely preventable occurrence," said Ratner. "It should not have happen today.
"I had warned both camps not to let any incidents happen today.
"They should have had security there and kept the fighters apart, this didn't need to happen.
"We've had a history the last couple of month of different things breaking out at press conferences, there's just no reason for these fighters to have to pose.
"Keep them apart, let them fight in the ring."
Tyson, arguably the most controversial fighter in the history of boxing, was the most feared heavyweight of the 1980s and set to become one of the best of all time before his upset defeat by James "Buster" Douglas in 1990.
In 1992, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with four years suspended, after being convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America contestant.
Two years after being released from prison in March 1995, he was disqualified in round three of his world title rematch with Evander Holyfield after biting the champion's right ear.
He was subsequently banned from the sport for a year and fined $3 million, before winning back his boxing license in 1998.
In July 2000, after beating fellow American Lou Savarese in a fight in Glasgow, he abused Lewis, saying: "I want your heart. I want to eat your children."
Produced by Lake House