| TYSON: Believes he is still the ‘baddest’ heavyweight around
Las Vegas: Mike Tyson says his passion for fighting is back. For that, he can thank Lennox Lewis.
“It always comes back” after taking a beating, Tyson said.
Seven months after Lewis did just that to him in Memphis, Tyson sat in a small dressing room Tuesday and talked about why he was beaten by Lewis, why he wants to fight again and why he thinks he has a chance in a planned June 21 rematch.
He offered no excuses, and he made no promises. But it was clear that underneath it all, Tyson still believes he is the baddest heavyweight around. “If he was that dominant he should have knocked me out in the second or third round,” Tyson said of Lewis. “He was still scared. He took no risks.”
Lewis, of course, didn’t need to take many risks the night of June 8 when he gave Tyson a beating in the richest heavyweight title fight ever.
Tyson had a solid first round, then fought the rest of the way in a sleepwalk before Lewis finally stopped him with a right hand to the jaw at 2:25 of the eighth round.
Tyson insisted he trained hard for the fight, only to come in weighing more than he had at the press conference to announce it. He had problems with sparring partners in camp, though, and felt tired after all of his workouts.
Maybe, he thought, he was trying too hard to do something which before came quite natural.
Whatever the reason, Tyson said he knew after the first round that it was not going to be his night. “I came back to the corner and I was dead. I was dead tired,” he said. “I didn’t know what I’d do now.”
Tyson, who fights Clifford Etienne in Memphis on February 22 in his first fight since losing to Lewis, talked for the first time publicly about why he lost as he sat getting his hands wrapped for a sparring session.
As usual with Tyson, the conversation drifted to things beyond boxing. It didn’t help that actress Meg Ryan was there with a camera shooting pictures.
“Hi Mike, I’m Meg,” she said.
“I know who you are,” he replied.
Tyson was in a good mood, but there was clearly work to be done for new trainer Freddie Roach. With his shirt off he appeared in good shape and near his expected fighting weight.
Etienne is not likely to cause Tyson many problems, but he desperately needs a big knockout win not only to regain his confidence, but to sell the proposed rematch with Lewis.
Lewis said Friday through his attorney, Judd Burstein, that he was skipping a planned April 12 fight with Vitali Klitschko and would probably face Tyson again in June if Tyson looks good against Etienne.
A Tyson-Lewis rematch won’t do the business the first fight did, but still could be lucrative for both fighters. Tyson used the Lewis fight to pay off debts he owed the Showtime Network, and he must pay $ 6.5 million of his future purses to his ex-wife, Monica, as part of their divorce settlement.
“Who else is he going to fight'” Tyson asked of Lewis. “I’m not going to try and be Mr Prima Donna and stroke my ego, but I’m still the hottest guy going down the pike.”