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FIRE AND FURY
Pat Putnam
December 17, 1990
Mike Tyson's comeback took a big step forward with a raging first-round KO of Alex Stewart
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December 17, 1990

Fire And Fury

Mike Tyson's comeback took a big step forward with a raging first-round KO of Alex Stewart

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Before losing the title, Tyson would balloon to 250 or 260 pounds after fights. Since the Tillman bout he has not exceeded 226. "I feel great," he said before the Stewart fight. "I'll never let myself get in that position again. I haven't had a drink in over a year. I do that to control myself. It's not that I have to quit, but because I know it is bad for me."

"Since I've been with him, the guy has been so straight it is unbelievable," said Giachetti, who joined Tyson after the Douglas loss. "I read all that stuff about him, and then I worked with him. It's like two different people. Hey, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for him."

At 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Giachetti was sitting down to a dinner of steak au poivre and baked potato when his beeper sounded. Tyson, who would be stepping into the ring in less than six hours, was calling with a request for Billie Holiday tapes. Giachetti rushed to the Oceans One shopping mall on the boardwalk, where he purchased six Holiday tapes for $49.68. Returning to a meal grown cold, Giachetti grinned and said, "I told you I'd do anything for him. I bought enough tapes so I could get him one for a discount price of four bucks."

Wrapped in a black robe with yellow piping, Stewart entered the ring accompanied by the Bob Marley song, Get Up, Stand Up. His choice of entrance music was unfortunate. Eight seconds after the fight started, he was sitting down.

Coming out of his corner with an odd flick of his right leg, Tyson charged. Stewart expected a furious assault, but not right away. Tyson's fourth punch, a looping right, crashed against Stewart's left temple, dropping him for a count of five. No sooner was Stewart on his feet again than Tyson resumed his frenzied attack. During one volley, as Stewart tried to fend him off with a jab, Tyson missed with a wild right hand, and the force behind the punch carried him to the floor. Referee Frank Cappuccino ruled it a slip.

Another Tyson right hand just after the one minute mark caught Stewart near the top of the head. Stewart went down again. This time he found his feet at the count of nine. Another barrage of red leather sent Stewart crashing against the ropes, and then to the canvas, with 45 seconds left in the round. Under New Jersey's three-knockdown rule, the bout should have been stopped at that point. But, with Stewart on the seat of his pants, his right arm stretched along a rope, his left hand on the floor, Cappuccino counted to eight before stopping the fight. The official time was 2:27.

"I could have got up," said Stewart, who hadn't appeared to be trying, "but he said stay there, and I did. What can I say? I just got caught. It happens."

Over the past three years Tyson has turned the Convention Center into a graveyard for opponents. He has fought there five times. He stopped Tyrell Biggs in seven rounds and Larry Holmes in four; then he knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds and Carl (the Truth) Williams in 93. "We're back!" shouted Tyson's promoter, Don King, storming up the steps into the ring after the victory. "We're back!"

Tyson was less effusive. "I knew he was tough," he said, "but I knew he wasn't going to keep getting up. I was too anxious. I wanted to explode on him. I rushed a little too much, but I was O.K. After the first knockdown, I hit him with a right hook to the body, and right then I knew it wouldn't go long. I punch harder to the body than I do to the head. But sometimes I'm reluctant to punch to the body. Sometimes I just want to rush in and punch, punch, punch."

"I like Alex Stewart personally," he added pleasantly. "He's a nice guy." For now, Tyson said, his only plan was a brief vacation. There is little he can do in his effort to regain the championship until Holyfield, who took the title from Douglas in October, defends the crown against George Foreman on April 19 in the same Atlantic City arena. Tyson's last hope, the WBC's threat to strip Holyfield for not defending first against Tyson, has gone to arbitration, though there's little chance that the court will rule in Tyson's favor.

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