Boxing: Foreman may be in Tyson's sights

AFTER DEFEATING Francois Botha with a single stunning punch at the end of the fifth round of a generally reputable contest in Las Vegas on Saturday, Mike Tyson is now two or, at the most, three fights away from the chance to regain his world heavyweight title.

He will return to the MGM Grand Garden on 24 April for the second bout of a four-fight contract with the casino hotel. His new adviser, Shelly Finkel, refused to name the next heavyweight to face his fighter, but said that they were in negotiations with "the regulars", including Axel Schulz, Lou Savarese and Vaughn Bean. Tyson reiterated his claim that he will take four fights within the next year and then retire, although the results and the taxman's demands will probably have a say in that decision.

Although Tyson concentrated on beating Botha with his fists, he was nevertheless involved in a tense incident at the end of the first round, when both fighters carried on scrapping long after the bell and police were called in to the ring. Tyson's anger flickered, arousing fears that the arena was about to see a repeat of the kind of incident that took place 18 months ago in his second fight against Evander Holyfield.

Once that moment had passed, however, the two opponents conducted themselves according to the rules, and despite several outbursts of verbal abuse during the fight they were full of congratulations for each other afterwards. Tyson left the ring to applause, a pleasant change from his last exit of the MGM, when he was pelted with rubbish after being disqualified for biting Holyfield's ears.

In the early stages on Saturday Tyson appeared to be completely ignoring his new trainer's instruction to avoid trying to end the fight with a single big blow. There was little sign of a desire to do the necessary damage more subtly through a gradual accumulation of punches. "I'm not a one-punch fighter any more," he claimed afterwards, but it was a single right hand that had done the job of restoring him to contention.

Before Tyson can be lined up to meet the winner of the world title fight between Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, which takes place on 13 March at Madison Square Garden, he will need one or two further fights - and one of them may be against another former champion, George Foreman, who will be 50 years old to Tyson's 32.

"I don't know," a weary Tyson said after the fight. "I'll fight anyone. If the price is right, I'll fight a lion."

Tyson times it right, page 16