March 26–You won’t believe what Mike Tyson’s going to do now.
The former world heavyweight boxing champion rarely fails to grab attention, whether it be with his powerful brawling style, his stunning fall from sporting grace, his ear biting of Evander Holyfield, the facial tattoo and appearances in “The Hangover” films.
Tyson, 45, now is preparing for some reflection, as defined perhaps only by him. First, he’ll enter the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame on Saturday before the April 1 Wrestlemania XXVIII. Who could forget Tyson’s appearance as the referee of the 1998 match that marked the start of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin era?
Then, April 8 to 13, Tyson will unveil his live, one-man act at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Live on Stage,” in which he is expected to skewer the likes of his former boxing promoter Don King and former wife Robin Givens, and take an honest look at his own wild ride of life.
How’d you get into the WWE Hall of Fame?
“They think I belong in there and want me to fly out and get inducted into their hall. I’m not going to argue with them. I’m ecstatic. I watched wrestling before I ever watched boxing on TV. Bruno Sammartino was my favourite, but I liked all those guys: Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, the Iron Sheik, Superstar Billy Graham.”
From there, you go to your new Las Vegas one-man act. What can you tell me about it?
“This is something my wife, [Kiki], suggested after we saw Chazz Palminteri’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ standup show in Vegas. It was breathtaking to [Kiki], and I told her, ‘I do that stuff in Europe and Asia all the time, but I’m usually drunk in the crowd telling my stories.’ This time, it’s going to be refined, with not too much profanity. No [derogatory female references]. My wife is all into that girl power movement, so I’m working the respect angle. I’ll be pretty naked up there, and we’re going to see how people enjoy it.”
You’ve been involved in so many crazy things, what don’t we know about you?
“I got a prison counselor pregnant once.”
When was that … ?
“When I was locked up. Look it up. That’s when it happened.”
I remember seeing you a few years ago at a Robert Guerrero fight in the bowels of the Tropicana Hotel. That was not a major bout, but I was impressed because I thought it spoke to your deep affinity for the sport. Am I right?
“I love that stuff. I still love being part of the community. The best things that happened in my life … everything stems from boxing. I wanted to be a master of my genre, and I think I made it. I love fighting, all kinds. I like MMA, it’s more exciting than boxing is now. I just like the idea, the philosophy of fighting — karate, Kung Fu, all of it.”
The sport could use that type of ambassador or mediator now to pound out a deal for a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout in November. Any interest?
“If you need one man to get two men in the ring and fight each other, they’re not men. They should want to fight each other. I don’t know if they will fight, or why they won’t. I’m not in their heads. There may be a financial strategy at play, some kind of rights we’re not thinking about.”
You can’t really relate to this, right?
“Some guys are afraid to lose, and they think once they lose there’s nothing left. That zero is their security blanket. I was just out there wanting to be the best. I thought of myself as the best fighter God ever created. No man was ever going to step into that ring and beat me. I can’t relate. It’s out of the question. We’re from different eras. Some of these guys today are business oriented. When I fought, we didn’t care if we had no money left afterward. All we really wanted was to have enough left to open a bar like the guys before us did, and a lot of those guys were deadbeats or ended up in insane asylums. That was the glamorous road I wanted to follow.”
Who wins, Mayweather or Pacquiao?
“Who’s favoured in Las Vegas?”
Mayweather would be a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 favourite.
“I have to go with Floyd.”
The heavyweight division is such a yawner with the Klitschko brothers dominating. Could you have beaten them?
“You can ask any fighter in the world, and they’d say, ‘Yes, I’d knock that guy out.’ These guys are outside-the-country fighters. We live in America. Americans don’t like this stuff. We like drama. These [Klitschkos] are gentlemen, erudites. We relate to the downtrodden. We don’t like the professor. I have to be honest, they’d be hard to beat with all that jabbing and moving. They’ve been beat before, but from those defeats, they’ve learned. But I would like to believe I could get in there and do my thing.”
You’ve transformed from destructive guy to a happily married family man. Is this the version of you we’ll see the rest of the way?
“God willing. Who I am, and who people think I am has always been at odds. I’m sitting here talking to you now, but maybe someone at this very second wants to make up a story that I was grabbing [a woman]. I’m back to the lowlife ’80s guy I was, and people will say, ‘I knew he couldn’t change!’ I’m not a new guy, though. I’m like a bad slave who’s seen the light.”
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