Nevada officials face another Tyson dilemmaPosted: Monday January 28, 2002 5:56 PM
Updated: Tuesday January 29, 2002 1:01 PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- When Nevada boxing regulators last dealt with Mike Tyson, they dispensed a bit of Old West justice, suggesting it might be best if he just left town.
Now Tyson wants back in. And that leaves Nevada Athletic commissioners with a dilemma they wish they didn't have: Give Tyson a license or risk blowing a multimillion-dollar boost to the local economy.
A week after he went berserk at a New York press conference, Tyson goes before the commission Tuesday asking for leniency once again.
If he wins, he'll fight Lennox Lewis on April 6 at the MGM Grand Hotel. If he's rejected, the fight could either be called off or moved to a state more friendly to the former heavyweight champion.
Lewis plans to watch the hearing on television to see if the fight will go on as scheduled. Nevada casino operators will be paying close attention themselves for a fight that could mean several hundred million dollars to the Las Vegas economy.
"It's going to be close," said Kirk Hendrick, the former Nevada state legal counsel who led the move to revoke Tyson's license after he bit Evander Holyfield in 1997. "It's 100 percent burden on Mike to show he should get a license to box in this state."
While Tyson has had plenty of experience before the commission, four of the five commissioners have been replaced since Tyson was told to take his act on the road after hitting Francois Botha after the bell in a 1999 comeback fight.
They'll have to decide whether the rewards of hosting one of the biggest fights ever are worth the risk of Tyson doing something else to disgrace the sport or the state.
"We're there to regulate and protect the integrity of boxing," said commissioner John Bailey, a Las Vegas attorney. "I presume we will ask questions about what has happened in the last two or three years since he had a license and try to get a sense of what he's been doing."
That should already be clear to anybody who follows the sport. Since leaving Nevada, Tyson tested positive for marijuana in a Detroit fight with Andrew Golota, threatened to eat Lewis' children after another fight and went after Lou Savarese even after the fight was stopped and the referee was trying to protect him.
Just this month, Tyson made news in Cuba for throwing Christmas ornaments and a fit at reporters trying to question him and found out that police in Las Vegas think there's enough evidence to charge him with rape in an incident last year at his Las Vegas home.
His wife, Monica, also filed for divorce.
"Everything is pretty much fair game," Bailey said. "But my feeling is that we as a commission can't draw any inferences from the rape allegations because of his presumption of innocence until proven guilty."
Tyson was not planning to appear personally before the commission, but that changed after last week's fiasco in New York when he threw a punch at a Lewis bodyguard and allegedly also bit Lewis on the leg.
After that, he made lewd gestures and yelled expletives at an audience member who suggested he need a straitjacket.
The incident prompted the commission to order Tyson to appear if he wanted to get a license.
Unlike the revocation of Tyson's license for 15 months after he bit Holyfield on the ear, the commission's action on Tuesday doesn't mean Tyson won't be fighting Lewis in the near future.
Since the commission is just deciding whether it wants to grant Tyson a license, the decision is not binding on other states that might want the fight.
Tyson reportedly is guaranteed $17.5 million plus a percentage of the pay-per-view revenues for the fight.