Boxing: Tyson to launch pursuit of world title against Botha

MIKE TYSON will start his attempt to regain the world heavyweight title after having his licence returned to him by taking on Frans Botha at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 16 January.

Tyson has signed a contract for the fight with the promoters America Presents, who intend to announce details of the arrangement in New York today.

The contest will mark Tyson's first appearance in the ring since his suspension 15 months ago for biting Evander Holyfield's ears during their world title fight. That incident caused the Nevada State Athletic Commission to strip Tyson of his licence, which was returned to him only last month after he had undergone psychiatric test to establish that he was fit to fight again.

Botha, who hails from Witbank, in South Africa, has had 37 fights, losing only one. That defeat came when the White Buffalo as he is known challenged Michael Moorer for the International Boxing Federation title. Moorer stopped him in the 12th round.

Botha, who is managed by Frank Warren, was supposed to have fought on the same card as Naseem Hamed's world title defence againt Wayne McCullough in Atlantic City at the Weekend. However, he was pulled out of his scheduled bout.

In some respects, Hamed might wish that he had not had to go through with his fight either. He was dogged by controversy in America after he arrived late, because of a mix-up over his visa, as his subsequent boorish behaviour did not go down well. He awoke yesterday to scathing criticism of his performances in and out of the ring, following his unanimous points victory.

"Prince Naseem Hamed's second visit to the United States left his unbeaten record intact but his public image in tatters," said the Sun. "Brendan Ingle has created a monster during the last 17 years and the boy appears to be running out of control."

The Mirror was equally damning, labelling Hamed's performance "a devastating flop", while the Daily Mail said: "You can fool a lot of disco generation people in England... but you cannot fool the American fistic fraternity for a moment."

Even the broadsheets gave Hamed a broadside. The Daily Telegraph called him "the clown prince in danger of losing the plot".

n The British Boxing Board of Control is to hold an inquiry after Peterborough's first professional show in a decade erupted into a riot on Saturday night. Drunken fans threw chairs and bottles with several of the 900 people present being injured as fighting broke out. Frank Maloney, who co- promoted the non-title show with Kevin Sanders, is believed to have scrapped plans to stage three further shows in the city.

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