Boxing: Francis ready for dream shot at Tyson
Wednesday 15 December 1999
The Tyson-Francis fight and the other fights on the bill will cost nearly pounds 8m and the funding will come from Showtime, the cable television company, live tickets sales and the anticipated high sales of Sky's pay-per-view package on the night.
Francis, 35, a former bouncer, pirate boxer and current British heavyweight champion, defended his selection as Tyson's opponent by comparing his skills with the talents of the last two men who shared a ring with the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. "In January Tyson struggled to catch up with Frans Botha, and Botha has never beaten anybody of note," said Francis.
"In October Orlin Norris never fancied it and he is best known as a cruiserweight. I would do well against both of them." Francis, like Botha and Norris, will start as underdog.
Frank Warren, the promoter, has plans to feature Tyson again, either in a possible co-promotion with his partner, Peter Kohl, in Germany or in America with Tyson's promoters, American Presents. "I hope this is just the start," said Warren. However, he was understandably irate yesterday even after the news that ticket sales at the 21,000-seat stadium had passed 17,000. He said: "This fight could have and should have been at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 15 January, but I ran out of promotional time because of people playing silly games."
Francis turned professional in 1993 after a bizarre end to his amateur career. In 1993 Francis was the favourite to win the Amateur Boxing Association super-heavyweight title, but a week before the semi-finals he appeared under a pseudonym on a so-called pirate boxing show, one not under the British Boxing Board of Control's rules, at Caesars Palace, Streatham, and won the heavyweight title of Kent. A few days later somebody at the ABA found out and Francis was removed from the championships.
He turned professional in May, the same month he would have fought for the amateur title. Tyson also fought illegally on smokers, as pirate shows are called in America, before he turned professional, but that is where the similarities in their careers end.
"I'm studying a tape of the Botha fight and looking closely at everything Botha did right and everything that Tyson did wrong," added Francis. "He is no longer the so-called Baddest Man on the Planet but he is still a good fighter, one of the best heavyweights in the world. In truth, it is impossible to have a plan because I will find out what I'm going to do when he hits me.
"If Mike wants to get dirty, I can get dirty. I know how to use my elbows, I know how to use my head in the ring and on the street. I'm not going to let Mike Tyson intimidate me with his dirty antics. I don't see why I should."
Francis will receive $500,000 (pounds 308,000) for the fight, which is considerably more than the pounds 20,000 he was due to get this Saturday at York Hall, Bethnal Green, to defend his British and Commonwealth titles against Harry Senior. Francis has relinquished the Commonwealth belt and Senior will now fight Brixton's Danny Williams for the discarded belt in front of an estimated crowd of 800.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...