Boxing: Tyson `bought' for a bargain

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A LOAN of just $5m (pounds 3m) secured the most-valued signature in boxing, that of Mike Tyson, for the Denver-based company America Presents, surprisingly chosen as promoters for the first two bouts of 32-year-old Tyson's latest return to the ring.

The hard-up heavyweight, whose boxing licence was recently restored following a one-year suspension for biting Evander Holyfield's ears in their June 1997 title fight in Las Vegas, will repay the advance in two $2.5m instalments from the purses he will receive for the first two bouts of his comeback.

The arrangement provides America Presents with incredible value for their initial outlay - Tyson's rematch with Holyfield alone is thought to have grossed over $100m and the promotional outfit's projected profit of $5m for each of the comeback fights is thought to be conservative.

In March, Tyson filed a $100m lawsuit against his former promoter, Don King, alleging that King wrongfully deducted $45m from the fighter's earnings following Tyson's release from jail in 1995, after serving three years of a six-year sentence for the rape of Desiree Washington.

For six fights between 1995 and 1997, Tyson is thought to have earned around $140m, but he claims that mismanagement of his affairs by King and Tyson's former managers, John Horne and Rory Holloway, has left him in financial difficulties.

It has been reported that Showtime, the American subscription TV network, that will televise Tyson's comeback bouts, has paid the troubled fighter $33m for a series of fights, with the proviso that $13m of that amount is used to clear Tyson's tax debt.

Tyson is scheduled to return to the ring on 16 January at the MGM Grand casino-hotel in Las Vegas, against either Francois Botha, Vaughn Bean or Brian Nielsen. Further details will be announced at a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

Herol Graham, who came close three times to winning a world title, has been forced to retire after being told he risked blindness if he fought again. Graham, 39, had been due to take on David Starie for the vacant British super-middle-weight title in London on 21 November.

However, the Sheffield man said: "I went to the optician - he looked and looked again. When that happens then you know something is wrong. I'm seeing a specialist later but it's likely to be a detaching retina, which could need surgery or laser treatment."

Widely regarded as the best British fighter never to win a world crown, Graham had three unsuccessful title bids, the last being in March, when he was stopped by the super-middleweight Charles Brewer.