A spectating Mike Tyson caused Vitali Klitschko infinitely more problems than his bout with Canada's Kirk Johnson did on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Klitschko easily knocked out Johnson in two one-sided and awful rounds of boxing. In theory, the Ukrainian's workout was the final stage before a re-match with Lennox Lewis, but the surprise arrival of Tyson and his entourage indicates that Klitschko has broadened his horizons and is now considering an alternative future.
When Klitschko realised his press conference was under threat from Tyson, a smile broke out across his unmarked face and he greeted the fallen idol of the heavyweight division courteously and warmly.
"You are a great fighter and I have always looked up to you and perhaps one day we can meet in the ring," said Klitschko.
Tyson refused to comment on his on-off career, but grudgingly admitted he is finding it increasingly difficult to get up in the morning for roadwork and attending the gym for the hours of necessary hardship.
In the ring Klitschko was able to do whatever he wanted and it was a great relief when Johnson finally tumbled over close to the end of round two. There were a few boos from the crowd of 10,000 that had braved a blizzard to take up their seats in boxing's spiritual home.
And there were some kind words for Klitschko from the former Lewis promoter Lou Duva, who claimed that the win would entice Lewis back into the ring.
"Lennox will only fight again if he feels under threat and the best thing Vitali could do was blow Johnson out quickly and now people will start to scream for Lewis to come back and fight him," Duva said. In June, Klitschko was winning on points before facial wounds caused his first fight with Lewis to end in round six.
In the nominal main event, the New Yorker Joe Mesi narrowly passed his Garden debut when he survived a knock-down in round seven to out-point Monte Barrett.
Mesi entered the ring with a perfect record of 27 wins, including 25 knockouts, and by round five he was in total control and Barrett had been on the canvas.
However, the one-dimensional white heavyweight ran out of ideas in the second half of the fight and took far too much punishment but somehow survived until the final bell. The judges were divided but two voted for Mesi and he retained his unbeaten record.
* The Belfast welterweight Eamonn Magee claimed a points victory over Birmingham's Jimmy Vincent on Saturday in Cardiff in the first of two World Boxing Union title fights. Magee is now pursuing a re-match with the WBU light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton.
The second title bout saw the Swansea cruiserweight Enzo Maccarinelli defend his belt for the second time with a first-round stoppage of South Africa's Earl Morais.Reuse content