On a conference call the other day, Mike Tyson sounded at ease with his new circumstances. The Iron Mike of old has long ago given way to the kinder, gentler Mike Tyson, and the new persona is enough to make you want to cheer for Tyson.
Yet you shake your head and ask yourself: What is this man doing?
Tonight in Verona, New York, Tyson steps back into boxing in a major way. No, he’s not lacing up the Everlast gloves, because that part of his boxing life is far behind him. Instead, he’s entering the world of boxing promoter, as sleazy an occupation as anything else aside from being a loan shark or a pimp.
At the Turning Stone Resort Convention Center, Tyson is promoting an event billed as “Tyson Is Back,” as if to suggest he himself will be in the ring throwing haymakers.
Thinking of Tyson as a promoter is like thinking of castor oil: You can’t rid its horrible taste from your mind.
Tyson is a lot of things: a doting father, a former heavyweight champion, an actor and a husband. What he is not, however, is a man who manages money well.
Part of a promoter’s task is to put money together to pay the fighters. A promoter handles logistics and costs; he coddles temperamental champs and their entourages; he strokes the ego of overprotective managers. He pays the bills.
Tyson has a sorry record of paying bills. He’s a man who ate through $500 million, squandering it on fast cars, a fast lifestyle and even faster women. He hobnobbed with all the high-rollers in Las Vegas, New York City and wherever else the good times rolled.
None of that high living has prepared him for the grunt work of a fight promoter, and the only real tutoring he has had on this part of the sport came from Don King, the convicted killer and cutthroat boxing impresario whom Tyson accused of siphoning off as much of his winnings as he received.
With a mentor like King, can Tyson be counted on to handle the affairs of others any better than he handled his own?
For anybody to trust Tyson with their boxing affairs is to put their money at risk, just as Tyson did during his years under King.
From King, Tyson might have learned how not to promote fights, a good piece of information to have in a new line of work. It is more than likely, though, that he came away from his King experience jaded and scarred, unable to trust people with his money.
Now, Tyson expects others to trust him with theirs. “Crazy” is the kindest way to describe this. No one would quarrel if the word “stupid” were used in its place.
Because it is stupid to believe Mike Tyson’s fight cards will make money for anybody.
Yet that’s how the sweet science works. It’s no business these days for a reconstructed man like Tyson – in or outside the ring.