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Boxing: Maloney: Tyson can wait his turn

LENNOX LEWIS' manager, Frank Maloney, yesterday insisted Mike Tyson's return to the ring will not affect the planned heavyweight unification fight with Evander Holyfield.

Tyson had his boxing licence returned on Monday, 16 months after he was stripped of it for biting Holyfield's ear, and many expected an explosive and lucrative re-match to be on the cards. But Maloney claimed that the Lewis-Holyfield fight will go ahead as planned and that he will announce the date and place by the end of the week.

Holyfield, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion, signed the contract last week and is expected to earn pounds 13m. Lewis, who holds the World Boxing Council version of the title, is expected to earn around pounds 5m.

Maloney said: "The world wants a unification fight and the world wants an undisputed champion. Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis are the two title holders and Mike Tyson must wait his turn in the queue. I think Tyson's return is good for boxing. You can't stop a man from earning a living. I just hope he uses it for the good of Mike Tyson and good of boxing.

"Mike Tyson is still the biggest money-maker in boxing. They made such a big thing out of something that happened in the most physical and emotional sport we know. We all make mistakes."

Maloney said he expected Tyson to have two warm-up bouts before being ready to fight the winner of the Holyfield-Lewis fight.

Holyfield, the victim of an ear-biting assault which led to Tyson's ban, calmly said: "I'm happy he's got his licence back and I have got no resentment about the situation."

The man himself remains unsure about his boxing future. "I'm undecided when I'll fight again," said Tyson, who has been lined up for a bout later this year, probably against the German Axel Schulz. "I don't know whether I'm prepared to fight. I've been going through a lot of things - I'm just happy I won."

After a four-hour hearing which included testimonies from Muhammad Ali and the basketball player Magic Johnson, the commission chairman, Elias Ghanem, warned Tyson: "Mike, most of your problems are of your own making. You have to take responsibility for your own life."

The hearing also received letters from the attorneys of the two men who accused Tyson of assaulting them after a minor traffic accident in Montgomery County in August, urging the commission to restore his licence. The men stated that Tyson has apologised to them and needs to return to boxing to pay for the treatment recommended by doctors who evaluated him, according to The Washington Post.

They are currently negotiating a financial settlement and want Tyson to get psychiatric help, not punishment, the story said. Tyson's probation status for his rape conviction could be affected if he was convicted for the assaults.

Tyson, who still must file the standard application form to receive a new licence, may be forced into a fight sooner rather than later due to financial pressures. He was animated throughout the licence hearing, often touching his wife, Monica Turner Tyson, affectionately or turning to look at various speakers. He described his banishment, and the laborious appeal for reinstatement, as "torture".

"There's nothing wrong with me," Tyson told the panel at one point. "I'm at you guys' mercy. Please don't torture me any more, sir."

One of the men queueing to take on Tyson is the 48-year-old Joe Bugner, the holder of the World Boxing Federation title. Bugner said: "I'm able to attract enough people in this country [Australia] to make it pay."

Ken Jones, Review, page 4