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
Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United: Saints yet to receive 'serious offer' but midfielder could complete move by end of this week
Memphis Depay latest: Manchester United signing turns 'focus' on the season ahead
Sergio Ramos to Manchester United: Real Madrid defender 'wants' Old Trafford switch
Venezuelan TV host gets completely naked while reporting on Copa America win over Colombia
Manchester United transfer news: Javier Hernandez nears exit as Liverpool eye move for striker despite revealing Real Madrid video
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...
£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...