Mike Tyson's decision to fight in Milan has already started a rush for tickets. Two months before Tyson's second European fight and seven days before the 10,000 tickets are made available, the organisers said yesterday they had already been flooded with calls for seats.
"We got calls from Paris, London and other European cities demanding tickets at any price," said a spokeswoman for the box office at the Filaforum, the sports arena where Tyson will fight the American Lou Savarese on 20 May. Ticket prices have yet to be announced but reports said the dearest seats could cost as much as £650.
"In Milan, people are going to attend a super event, because Tyson is a superstar not only in boxing but also as a person," the British promoter, Frank Warren, said. "We expect an impressive response."
When Tyson fought in Manchester on 29 January, when he stopped Julius Francis in the second round, the 21,000 tickets were sold out in two days, with demand exceeding 50,000.
Tyson, who has a record of 47 wins (41 knockouts), three losses and one no-contest, will travel to Milan 10 days before the fight with Savarese, staying in a luxury downtown hotel and training in the New-Trefor gym. "Tyson loves Milan, visited briefly in 1991, and insisted he wanted to fight here," Warren said. "Being a shopaholic he will enjoy all the stores in Milan."
Milan has lots of luxury shops, including those of Armani, Versace, Ferre and Krizia. While staying in London before the Francis fight, Tyson spent over £650,000 on jewellery, clothes and other items, and ordered a sports car.
The fight at Filaforum - which has hosted the world ice hockey championships and a Davis Cup final - will be shown on a six-hour delay in the United States on Showtime. The organisers added that they were negotiating television rights with networks from 120 countries, including China and Australia. "Television watchers will be by the billions," Warren said.
Savarese, with 39 wins and three defeats on his record, is expected to be a tougher opponent than Francis. "It's a fight Tyson can't afford to lose," Warren said. "Savarese is a tough opponent, with a big opportunity to upset the odds."
The bout was originally planned to be staged in April but was postponed to 20 May because Tyson, who will be 34 on 30 June, reportedly demanded more time to prepare. The undercard will include Zab Judah's first defence of the IBF junior welterweight title.
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