The people who believe in this struggle for Tyson's soul are the ones who will swell his purses during his comeback. Even the fighter, who has rebuffed all contact with his old friends, can appreciate the pessimism that now surrounds his career. "I intend to win the title back," he says. "Then again, I'm skeptical. I'm making more money now than as a champion."
Still, few believe that Iron Mike's mettle will be tested by Tillman, a former Olympian whose career has been anything but golden. Tillman has lost to Bert Cooper, Holyfield, Dwain Bonds and Willie de Wit. These are not the credentials of a contender. He has fought just three times in the last two years and has earned this bout with Tyson on the thinnest of story lines: He beat Tyson out of a spot on the Olympic team six years ago.
In fact, the promotion seems to be carried more by Foreman, who is boxing's equivalent of an automobile crash—you know you shouldn't look, but it's impossible to avert your eyes. Now 41, and as huge as ever, Foreman has become the star of these press conferences, cheerfully posing with whatever platter of food the host can provide. At the Las Vegas press conference, where Dundee identified a fighter he had on the undercard, a 6'7" spirit called Holken Brock, Foreman perked up noticeably. "He thought you said H�agen Dazs," Arum later told Dundee.
At the Los Angeles press conference, Tyson has to deal with that question of suicide. Kill himself? He is taken aback. With a white limo at his disposal and Rodeo Drive only a few minutes away? "I have a lot of money to spend, before I kill myself," he tells the questioner. The place erupts in laughter. Team Tyson—the two childhood chums—put their heads down and pound the table with their fists. The gold in Tyson's mouth glitters.
Of Tyson's future, of course, nothing is certain. He's just a kid, after all. Given the chaos that attends the heavyweight boxing champion—"ex, ex, ex"—you would not want to predict where Tyson will find himself even a year from now. About all you can say for sure, as you watch the happy gang peel out for Beverly Hills, is that they'll be wearing new duds tonight.