Tyson, Lewis Arrive in Memphis
Saturday, June 1st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Lennox Lewis got a champion's welcome Friday, while Mike Tyson slipped into town with little notice.
Following a parade through the city's Beale Street entertainment district, Lewis predicted he will hold on to his heavyweight title with a knockout.
He meets Tyson at the Memphis Pyramid on June 8.
``Tyson's going to get knocked out, for real,'' Lewis said from the stage in a Beale Street park where he was given a key to the city by Mayor Willie Herenton.
Following a high school band, majorettes and dance teams, Lewis rode down Beale Street atop a black Humvee limo.
``I love it. I love Memphis,'' he shouted to the crowd.
Police estimated the crowd lining both sides of the street through the city's main tourist strip at up to 10,000.
Fan Vanessa House turned out wearing a T-shirt featuring drawings of both Lewis and Tyson.
``But I'm a fan of Lewis, not Tyson,'' House said. ``I just wanted to get a good look at him.''
Like most Memphis residents, House won't be attending the fight, but she hopes to watch it on pay-per-view TV. Most of the fight fans at the 20,000-seat Pyramid will be from out of town.
Herenton said the turnout for the parade showed that Memphis residents are happy to have the fight in their city.
``The overwhelming majority of people, I think, are excited about having this opportunity to showcase our city to the world,'' Herenton said.
While police and bodyguards cleared the way for Lewis to get on stage, a children's singing group called ``Watoto De' Afrika,'' performed a special number called ``Oooo Mr. Lewis.''
``Gather around cause Mr. Lewis just came to town,'' the children sang. ``He is king of the ring cause he can knock everybody down.''
After a brief thank you to the crowd, Lewis returned to his limo and was driven away.
He stopped long enough, though, to give a special treat to a young woman who was bouncing up and down shouting for him to roll down his window.
Instead, Lewis opened the door, let her in and gave her a quick hug.
Tyson's arrival was decidedly lower key.
He arrived by private jet at a small landing strip on the outskirts of Memphis International Airport, quickly climbed into a waiting limo and was driven away.
He stopped just long enough to shake hands with the mayor. He avoided photographers and reporters waiting for his arrival.
Tyson is to conduct his final training sessions at Fitzgeralds Casino in Tunica, Miss., about 35 miles south of Memphis.
Lewis' training camp is at Sam's Town, another casino in the Tunica gambling strip.
Tyson, who served three years in prison on a rape conviction and has been accused of several fights and other acts of violence outside the ring, is expected to keep his public appearances to a minimum while in Memphis.
Lewis told the crowd packed into the Beale Street park that they probably won't see much more of him before the fight.
``I'm going to be focused on ... what I'm going to do to Mike Tyson,'' he said.