Mighty Tyson and the strife of Brian

Danish pastings: Brave Nielsen keeps Iron Mike waiting as Calzaghe proves in league of his own
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The Independent Online

It is possibly too early to say whether Mike Tyson is genuinely back or if he has a future in the heavyweight division but last night he was brutal.

In front of 21,000 spectators here in the Parken Stadium on the edge of this civilised and tranquil city Tyson spent six rounds savaging Denmark's national hero, Brian Nielsen. At the end of round six Nielsen claimed double vision in one eye and was pulled out.

What Tyson did prove last night again and again and again, often to the collective gasps of the crowd, was that if anybody stands in front of him he is still capable of inflicting the type of damage that he did during his peak period 13 or 14 years ago. It was the relentless style of his attacks that made him such a great fighter then and last night there were signs even at 35 he still has enough to upset a lot of boxers.

It is true that Nielsen's impressive record of 62 wins and just one defeat has been compiled against the type of fighters who know exactly what is asked of them when they receive their invitation to Denmark. Nevertheless, he is hardened to most of the knocks that the boxing business generates, but last night he simply had no answer.

"I really wanted to continue but the eye was swelling and I had trouble seeing his punches,'' said Nielsen. The crowd, who have faithfully followed his beautifully orchestrated career, booed him for remaining on his stool.

However, perhaps this is Danish humour because Nielsen enters the ring to the Monty Python song "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'' and the entire crowd joins Eric Idle in singing along. Last night's entrance was the only part of the night Nielsen will have enjoyed.

In the days before the fight rumours circulated in Copenhagen about the paranoia inside the Tyson camp. The large travelling security entourage that the troubled fighter subsidises were bothered by the lack of police presence whenever they ventured on to the Danish streets. There was even one story suggesting Tyson had attempted to purchase 20 bullet-proof vests for his team. However, last night he received a fabulous reception when the fight ended.

Now Tyson will probably take another break from the ring and wait and see if last night's performance has moved him any nearer to another world title fight. In theory he will meet the winner of the rematch between Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman, who meet on 17 November, next year.

"I would prefer to fight Rahman because he comes forward and that suits me but I've also been chasing Lewis for a long time so I'm really not bothered,'' said Tyson.

When last night's fight was called off Tyson eagerly embraced Nielsen, which appeared to put an end to yet another rumour that they hated each other. That had started the day after Nielsen called Tyson a "little chimp''. Nielsen denied the Danish expression he used was racist, but members of Tyson's entourage lost their cool at the weigh-in.

Tyson's expression never changed in the ring last night; for once he controlled his urges and his senses and was as calculating as he has ever been. If Nielsen had really upset him he would have lost his composure at some point.

In theory the joint main event last night was Joe Calzaghe's ninth defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title against America's Will McIntyre. It ended after 35 seconds of the fourth round when McIntrye was caught with a right and he fell face first. It should have been all over in the previous round but the New York referee, Rudy Battle, decided to let his compatriot continue.

McIntyre was out on his feet at the end of round three and in no condition to continue but Battle disagreed, even when Calzaghe stopped throwing punches, stepped away and pleaded with the referee to call a halt.

Now Calzaghe and his promoter Frank Warren will find a date sometime in March for the fighter to make his long overdue American debut. Possibility of Calzaghe fighting in America was first mentioned on 11 October, 1997, when the Welsh boxer beat Chris Eubank to win the title.

"It has been a very long wait for me to finally get into the position I'm in now,'' said Calzaghe. "Beating McIntyre in style was important to me because I know my next fight will be in America.'' Last night's bout was screened on Showtime in America alongside the Tyson massacre.

Calzaghe will probably get his wish next year. But there is always a degree of uncertainty in the heavyweight division and the uncertainty increases when Tyson is involved, so it is hard to predict just exactly what will happen to his. Last night, though, Tyson proved that he could still be a force.

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