Boxing: Tyson seeks Nevada licence

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The Independent Online
NEVADA BOXING officials once again control the ring future of Mike Tyson after the latest peculiar twist in the former world heavyweight champion's career.

Late on Thursday Tyson withdrew his bid for reinstatement in New Jersey and instead submitted a request to have his fighting licence returned from the same Nevada officials who banished him from the sport 13 months ago.

"We were surprised to get it," the Nevada Athletic Commission's executive director, Marc Ratner, said. "But we will set up a hearing and it will be a fair and impartial hearing."

Tyson, released from prison in 1995 after serving three years for rape, had his lic ence revoked by the commission for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear in their world heavyweight title fight in June, 1997.

A hearing had been scheduled for yesterday in Trenton, New Jersey, but Tyson's fate will now be decided at a hearing that Ratner expects will happen in two to three weeks after Tyson's new application.

"We did it because of what we'd been hearing from all the commissions, that Mike was hurting them," said Shelly Finkel, Tyson's advisor.

Finkel denied being worried that New Jersey would deny Tyson's application, saying there was a growing perception that Tyson should face the men who judged him earlier. "I felt very positive," Finkel said of the New Jersey hearing. He also said he was confident of success in Nevada, but added optimistically: "We can always go back to New Jersey if it's bad in Nevada."

Such hopes appear slight in the light of Tyson's eleventh-hour pull-out and his outburst during a July hearing in New Jersey when he swore while wondering why he had to keep apologising for the Holyfield incident.

Elias Ghanem, the Nevada commission's chairman, said Tyson had made an intelligent move by returning to Nevada.

"Maybe he came back to his senses and decided the best way to go about this was to come back to the state that revoked his licence," he said.

Tyson has parted company with Don King, his former promoter, and is suing him. There were reports Tyson feared King's influence in Nevada boxing circles would lead to an unfair hearing. But Ghanem said: "We have a very fair commission and we don't delay our decisions."

Mills Lane, the referee who disqualified Tyson during the infamous bout with Holyfield, praised Tyson's decision. Speaking on a New York television station, Lane said: "He should have gone to Nevada and faced the music there. You cannot dance around it. Going to Nevada is what he should have done in the first place."

In the New Jersey hearing Tyson was questioned for about 40 minutes about his 1992 rape conviction and the reasons behind his biting of Holyfield. Critics claimed he knew he would lose to Holyfield a second time and feared the end of his career.

"I was in a rage. I just snapped," Tyson said. "I'm sorry for what I did. It will haunt me for the rest of my life."