Tyson is feeling young again; bad news for Denmark's Nielsen

Thursday, October 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Mike Tyson is feeling young again.

That's bad news for Denmark's Brian Nielsen, who faces the 35-year-old Tyson on Saturday in a 10-rounder in the Danish capital.

Tyson, who hasn't fought for almost a year since a two-round no-decision against Andrew Golota, says he's in his best shape since being released from prison and returning to boxing in 1995.

``I feel in great condition now, and I just feel a whole lot different,'' said Tyson, who has worked for four months with Los Angeles-based conditioning coach Gunnar Peterson.

``I feel young, I feel vibrant, and when you're in condition, you want to do it. But when you're not in condition, you just want to throw it out the window.''

Saturday is supposed to be another walkover, with Tyson in line for a title fight against the winner of the Nov. 17 bout between Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis. Facing the winner of the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz bout is also a possibility.

Tyson (48-3, 2 no-contests, 42 KOs) has fought only 11 rounds since returning from suspension in January 1999. Nielsen (62-1, 43 KOs) has fought 82 rounds in that span. He's also fought four times since Tyson's last fight a year ago.

The former undisputed heavyweight champion is beefed up, his upper body sculpted. He showed his explosive power Wednesday, repeatedly lifting sparring partner Stacy McKinley's feet off the canvas with thumping body combinations.

``Most of the problems since I came out of prison have been I've just never been in condition,'' Tyson said, toweling beads of sweat from his shaved head at a north Copenhagen gym.

``I've been beating these guys with brute strength and a lot of intimidation. But I've never been in condition.''

Nielsen, 36, is a year older than Tyson and regarded as hittable, although he's been knocked down only once in his professional and amateur career. At 6-foot-2 and usually fighting at 250 pounds, he has knockout wins over former heavyweight champions Tim Witherspoon and Tony Tubbs. He also outpointed former champion Larry Holmes.

Nicknamed ``Super Brian'' or the ``Danish Pastry,'' he's enormously popular in Denmark, where he's expected to draw a 47,000 sellout Saturday under the roof at Parken Stadium _ the biggest boxing event in Danish history.

``My hat's off to Brian because he's the only one who stepped up the plate to fight Mike,'' said Tyson's trainer, Tommy Brooks. ``But Brian has never fought a guy that can blast like Mike. Mike can tear down a wall with either hand.''

``It would be unrealistic to say this will be a blowout. But I'm 99.99 percent sure Mike is going to stop this guy.''

``I've heard people say he (Tyson) is not what he used to be, he's only a fraction of what he used to be,'' Brooks said. ``The five fights I've been with him, they're all knockouts. What else can you ask for?''

Tyson usually fights in the 220-pound range, but is likely to weight in Thursday at least 230, Peterson said. ``Even more than that would be fine,'' he said. ``None of it is fat.''

``I don't know if Mike could go 48 minutes in the NBA, but he's fit, very fit and his body fat is down.''

A Muslim, Tyson said stayed in Europe after the fight rather than return home and get caught in the ``crossfire'' following terrorist attacks a month ago. He said a European stay would keep him relaxed and focused on regaining the undisputed title.

``That's my goal, and I'm just interested in doing that. I'm just hoping that it happens,'' Tyson said.

``I've been pretty sporadic in my life and very volatile. I'm just pretty cool now. I'm happy. I've been through the ordeals in my life, and I'm ready to be mature now.''

``I'm tired of all the junk; getting falsely accused, or putting myself in position of getting accused of something crazy.''