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Blame Tyson’s demise
on time in jail

Aug 10, 2004 1:56 AM

It wasn’t the joint with the torn meniscus that got Mike Tyson in trouble against Danny Williams. Blame instead the joints in Indiana and Maryland where he served time. The joints with booze and strippers where he squandered his physical talents. Maybe he would have been able to knock out Williams if the knee hadn’t gone in the opening round in Louisville. Maybe not.

Maybe Williams had already ridden out the early Tyson storm, one that a steady diet of Long Island iced tea and pot had limited to a brief hurricane. Maybe Williams, who noted that he watched the tapes of Tyson’s fights with Evander Holyfield to learn how to beat the erstwhile baddest man on the planet, wasn’t going to get knocked out because he "knew."

Williams "knew" if you stand up to Tyson, it wouldn’t take long before he faded like gambler’s winning streak. Now, if the knee heals (it’ll take lots of time) and Tyson tries to box again to get out of debt, there can only be a sadder ending than a fourth-round knockout by the undistinguished Williams.

Now, if Tyson decides to continue a career already ruined, every opponent will "know" that if he can get past the early assault, Tyson will be there for the taking. He will take beating after beating, like the 27 unanswered punches from Williams.

I’m thinking the Tyson who was on display in Louisville (and in Phoenix where he trained) had showed enough growth and maturity to warrant rooting for him again, not as a boxer, but as a person and parent. Even without the wounded knee, even if he had beaten Williams and gone on to win a few titles, eventually Tyson would have had to stop boxing. He could get on with the rest of his life (television commentary, acting, selling cars, whatever) and it is best to do so while he still has the ability to think clearly.

I think of these things, and how I can’t wait until September because the 2004 Olympic Games have created a large vacuum in the boxing schedule. There will be no betting fights until after Labor Day. Used to be, the Olympics were a quadrennial shot in the arm for boxing, producing fresh young talent already well marketed. No longer. More and more, like Tyson back in 1984, the talent is turning pro without going to the Games.

Tyson can’t get out of $38 million debt having rematches with Danny Williams. Okay, a third contest with Holyfield might be sick enough for the public to buy, but what else is left? A scheduled four-rounder against Wladimir Klitschko with oxygen tanks in each corner? Butterbean? Tyson vs. the Bearded Lady? He’ll become a freak show. The government might as well settle his tax debt for pennies on the dollar, and the same with his ex-wife, Monica Turner.

Williams’s four-round takeout did little for the legacy of Lennox Lewis, who needed eight rounds to get rid of Tyson and the former champion did not absorb the kind of opening assault that Williams had to take. Maybe that’s why Lewis decided to quit. He "knew."

Williams should go straight to Vitali Klitschko for the biggest possible payday. Win or lose, if Tyson resumes fighting, there is always another big score for the genial Brit in a rematch.

Williams was always a talented kid who was a big disappointment in England because of the way he choked in fights. He lacked confidence so much that he used to get sick before going into the ring. That may not be a problem anymore.

More Morales, please!

I’m thinking that as much fun as it was to watch Erik Morales dominate gutsy Carlos Hernandez, the Mexican fans at the MGM Grand Arena made a contest in which the loser won one round a "fight of the year" candidate. If the crowd isn’t going wild, or the fight is held in an empty studio, it’s just a terrible beating administered by one of boxing’s best on one of boxing’s bravest.

The counter right uppercut by Rafael Marquez that took out Heriberto Ruiz is more evident than Juan Manuel’s baby brother is even better than the featherweight titleholder who managed an incredible draw with Manny Pacquiao in what "still" is the fight of the year. The bantamweight champion hits a lot harder than big brother, having already knocked out two of the game’s best in Marc (Too Sharp) Johnson and Tim Austin.

Oscar-Hopkins: Yawn

No, I’m not getting excited about Oscar de la Hoya challenging Bernard Hopkins..Nor am I overjoyed about Roy Jones Jr. challenging Glencoffe Johnson on Yom Kippur. Cory Spinks gets a breather Sept. 4 when he defends against Miguel Angel Gonzalez, who is "shot." Tyson’s geniality was improved because of the absence of the mob that used to surround him. But when word got out that he was looking good in the gym (yes, that opening round against Williams was as good as he’s looked in 15 years) the entourage was gathering in the wings.