"I'm the best heavyweight in the world"
There were no threats, no promises to dine on offspring, and none of the usual theatrics that use to turn a Mike Tyson press conference into a helmets-required affair for journalists, and an intimidating reality check for his opponents. Instead, flanked by three of his children, advisor Shelly Finkel, and ex-wife Dr. Monica Turner, a relaxed and confident Mike Tyson appeared at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington DC to announce his June 11 comeback against Brockton heavyweight Kevin McBride at the MCI Center. Calling McBride “real cute,” Tyson promised to put on an exciting show for the people of Washington DC, which he described as his “favorite city.”
Tyson (50-5, 44 KOs), who turns 39 on June 30, returns to the ring for the first time since July 2004, when he was stopped in four rounds by Danny Williams. After looking better than he had in several years in the first round of the Williams fight, Tyson suffered a severe injury to his left knee, which required surgery, leading to the worse loss of his professional career. Yesterday Tyson said his knee is “totally fine,” and revealed that he fell into a deep depression following the Williams bout. Now, he’s just “happy to be here, and happy to be happy again.” However, the former two time heavyweight champion was visibly annoyed that Williams claimed credit for the victory. “How’s he going to brag about beating me, when I hurt my leg like that? Do you think I’d run around bragging about taking his shots if he was hitting me on one leg?”
In McBride (32-4-1, 27 KOs), Tyson faces the opponent he was originally scheduled to fight instead of Williams, before that fight fell apart due to McBride’s purse demands. For this bout, Tyson will earn $5.5 million to McBride’s $150,000.
The “Clones Colossus” figures to be an easy tune up for Tyson. Despite a respectable win-loss total, the only entries on McBride’s ledger that most fight fans will recognize are a 2002 fifth round TKO loss to DaVarryl Williamson, and a ninth round TKO loss to Axel Schulz in 1997. However, McBride and his promoter both predicted that he will knock Tyson out. “I’ve only been showing little bits in fights, but I haven’t shown the true Kevin McBride.” “This is my era, I’ll shock the word,” said McBride before proclaiming “the Irish are coming.”
Despite the lack of menacing threats, Tyson appeared confident and relaxed as he later sat for a question and answer session with reporters, while his three kids all sat on his lap. He told one reporter who asked who the best heavyweight in the world today is, “me. I’m the best heavyweight in the world.” Tyson also revealed his comeback strategy, saying he wants to fight “four or five more Kevin McBrides and then I’ll fight Klitschko.” Although he is approaching his 39th birthday, Tyson is not concerned by his advanced age, pointing out that fighters are now fighting well into their 40s, and doing it at an elite level.
Tyson clarified his training situation, confirming what Boxingtalk first reported, that former world champion and long time Tyson friend Jeff Fenech will take over as head trainer. He said that Buddy McGirt “was never really my trainer,” as had been previously rumored. “I was just down in Vero Beach going over some things with Buddy,” said Tyson. “But I had a great time down there, Buddy is an awesome individual.”
When Tyson advisor Shelly Finkel took the podium, he recalled comments made by Tiger Woods shortly after winning the Masters last weekend. “I’ve heard people talking about no fear of Mike. But I think everyone saw this incredible performance by Tiger Woods last Sunday,” said Finkel. “In an interview he said, ‘I fear nothing. I fear no one.’ And then he stopped and he said, ‘except Mike Tyson.’ Perhaps he knows something [McBride] doesn’t. We’ll find out on June 11.”
Showtime pay-per-view televised bout will feature Laila Ali (20-0, 17 KOs) against Erin Toughill (6-1, 0 KO) on the under card. Neither Toughill nor Ali, who was in Los Angeles, were present for yesterday’s event.
Promoter Marty Wynn of Raging Promotions has billed the fight “Redemption,” although Tyson who has been on his best behavior in recent years pointed out, “I’ve done nothing wrong to be redeemed from.” Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, April 15, priced at $700.00, $450.00, $250.00, $100.00, and $50.00. Tickets will be available at the MCI Center box office, all TicketMaster locations or by calling TicketMaster.