Mike Tyson announces his return to the ring

Friday, September 29th 2006, 4:52 am
By: News On 6

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) Even Mike Tyson doesn't know why people would pay to see him fight anymore.

"That's what I said," he said to that question Thursday, drawing laughter at a news conference to announce "Mike Tyson's World Tour," in which he will fight in a series of 4 round exhibitions.

"I think I'm useless to society. I don't think I'm worthy of the people who come out to see me, but they do."

The former heavyweight champ appeared calm and relaxed, smiling and joking about the shape he's in physically, mentally and financially.

But he said he was nervous to be back in front of an audience and in inner turmoil, his recent years marked by embarrassing fights, inside and out of the ring, and staggering debt.

"The money I make here is not going to help any of my bills really from a tremendous standpoint," he said. "But I'm going to feel better about myself. I'm not going to be depressed."

The "baddest man on the planet" acknowledged he's in horrible shape and only capable of going three or four rounds.

So Tyson, who last fought in June 2005, losing to the unheralded Kevin McBride, will return to the ring October 20th at the 6,000 seat Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown for a pay-per-view event against former sparring partner Corey "T-Rex" Sanders.

"Hopefully, he's gentle and kind to me," Tyson said. "If he starts winging, I'm going to start winging."

The 40 year old Tyson had said he was finished with boxing after his bout with McBride, which he quit after 6 rounds.

On Thursday, the man who vowed to eat Lennox Lewis' children and bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear seemed accepting of his current position and emphasized he's in no mood for a comeback.

"If I don't get out of these financial quagmires, there's a possibility I may have to be a punching bag for somebody," he said.

After the news conference, he said quietly, "I don't want to do that anymore. Everybody's saying, 'Mike, make a comeback.' I'm not going to do that.

"The best decision I ever made was to retire from boxing. Because I don't have any stress. I'm pretty simple. I like the person I am now more than I did. I don't like ‘Iron Mike,’ I like Mike Tyson."

Tyson lived in the Youngstown area during his heyday and said the tour will start there because he's still wanted and comfortable there.

"I love the rain," he remarked of the former steel town's typically dreary weather. "The rain to me is like sun to some people. It may sound pretty morbid. That's why I stayed here so long."

He recently trained in a makeshift ring at a Las Vegas hotel to help pay off his debt.

"I truly hate fighting," Tyson told The Associated Press in August. "I've got a bad taste in my mouth."

It was that experience though that made him realize people still want to see him.

His goal on the tour, he said, is to entertain people and to enjoy boxing for a change.

"I want to have fun because during my boxing career I was too damn serious. That was my problem, I took myself too serious," Tyson said, comparing his younger self to Terrell Owens, the talented but problem-plagued Dallas Cowboys receiver.

"I look at him and he reminds me of me. How much we are in love with ourselves and only we count and nobody else counts around us. I say, 'Wow that was me."'

Tyson shot to fame by knocking out Trevor Berbick in 1986 to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history at age 20. He was knocked out by James "Buster" Douglas in 1990 and lost his world heavyweight title. He later served prison time for rape,
returned to fighting and infamously bit Holyfield's ear in a 1997 fight.

Promoter Sterling McPherson is attempting to add former lightweight champ Paul Spadafora to the Tyson tour. Spadafora was paroled earlier this year after spending seven months in prison for shooting his fiancee in 2003 in Pittsburgh.

Also on the card is former 2003 Pan-Am Games silver medalist Juan McPherson, who unsuccessfully fought in court to win a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team after being medically disqualified because of a neck injury suffered in the ring.

No other dates have been scheduled for the tour.