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Be Unlike Mike
Rick Reilly
May 29, 2006
There are two ways to be heavyweight champion of the world.
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May 29, 2006

Be Unlike Mike

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Woman: Ohhhh. That sounds very smart.

Finding people who don't know him is easy. Throw a bucket of birdseed in any bar and you'll hit 50 of them. So far, on this May Wednesday in L.A., we've been to Gold's Gym in Venice, a caf� in Pacific Palisades and stopped for a few hundred red lights, and not one person has asked for his autograph or so much as honked a horn at him.

Tyson, meanwhile, hasn't beaten a decent opponent in 10 years, yet was in London the other day and had to run for his life from people who wanted to touch him. Of course, people wanted to touch Al Capone, too.

Klitschko, 30, wants your attention only long enough to practice his magic tricks. And even if he picks a card that isn't yours, you say it is. Have you ever seen this beast? He's 6'6", with hands the size of toaster ovens, shoulders that scrape both sides of doorways and a scowl in the ring that would make a Soprano hand over his wallet.

Not that Tyson can't do magic. He made $400 million disappear pretty quick. Like Klitschko, he kicks around Los Angeles, too, only a lot less joyfully. Saw him at Mr. Chow's the other night, head down in his noodles, never looking up, talking to nobody at his table. He is a hollow figure these days, trying to scare up appearance money, reality-show offers, or ads, and mostly failing.

He still has the Tyson way, though, offering to eat other fighters' children and such. Not that long ago he insisted that he didn't rape teenager Desiree Washington in 1991--although he did three years of striped sunshine for it--but he said the whole episode made him so mad, "I wish I did." Classy.

Klitschko, meanwhile, doesn't want to eat people's kids. He wants to teach them. He is a tireless spokesman for UNESCO--United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization--and its work in developing countries, and he's going to Africa later this year to help again.

That's the rip on Klitschko. He needs more Tyson, more savagery. "They say of me, 'No heart, no chin, no balls,'" Klitschko says. "I want to give an answer with my performance, not with the words. Words do not mean anything."

He convinced some people with his outpatient surgery on Chris Byrd last month to win the title. Now he wants a fight this fall at Madison Square Garden. "I work on lining up an opponent every day now."

Yeah, that's right--Klitschko even acts as his own promoter and manager. Do you realize how much money Tyson would have today if he'd have been his own manager and promoter? He wouldn't have had to sell his houses in Las Vegas, Ohio and Connecticut. His lawyers wouldn't be negotiating with the IRS to whittle down the millions he owes. Not that Tyson can pay the reduced figure, either.

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