Tyson hopes to cage the rage within

The former heavyweight champion has to defeat a dangerous underdog without a repeat of controversy

For not quite the first time in his life, Mike Tyson is doing his best to be a good boy. Tonight, the former world heavyweight champion and perennial public villain returns to the ring in Las Vegas for his latest comeback - marking his first fight since a three-and-a-half month spell in prison this summer for an outburst of uncontrollable road rage in rural Maryland.

For not quite the first time in his life, Mike Tyson is doing his best to be a good boy. Tonight, the former world heavyweight champion and perennial public villain returns to the ring in Las Vegas for his latest comeback - marking his first fight since a three-and-a-half month spell in prison this summer for an outburst of uncontrollable road rage in rural Maryland.

So far, at least, he is playing it all by the book. Tyson has been training hard, first in Phoenix, Arizona, and, for the past month, in Las Vegas itself, in preparation for his encounter with Orlin Norris, a 33-year-old former World Boxing Association cruiserweight champion. He has hired one of the most straightforward trainers in the sport, Tommy Brooks, who coached Evander Holyfield for his now notorious encounter with Tyson in 1997 - the one where Tyson lost his world title and Holyfield lost a chunk of his ear.

Even in his pre-bout press conference this week, Tyson kept the verbal pyrotechnics to a minimum. "I am planning to bring a lot of pain," was about as aggressive as it got. By Tyson standards, that was the equivalent of threatening to step on his opponents toes with a bedroom slipper.

If the ogre of old is sounding more like an outsize pussycat, though, there are good reasons. In the course of his ordeals with the law and with the world boxing authorities, Tyson has not been oblivious to a certain humiliation. He has been effectively sidelined from serious heavyweight competition, and has also lost a huge amount of money - an estimated $13 million (£8.1m) that he owes to the tax authorities, and millions more he has had to shell out to his lawyers.

From champion of the world, Tyson has sunk to such depths that he could not even get tonight's fight on pay-per-view television - it is being broadcast on the widely available cable station Showtime instead. Interest in the fight is subdued by Tyson standards, with little more than three quarters of the MGM Grand Garden Arena's 16,000 seats taken on the eve of the bout.

Originally, the fight with Norris was to have been for the World Boxing Council's international heavyweight crown, but Tyson changed his mind after realising that the WBC would have demanded a $300,000 sanction fee to free the title up from its current, considerably disgruntled holder, Ross Puritty.

As a result, tonight's contest will run just 10 rounds rather than the standard 12. Money, not professional pride, is clearly the big motivator: Tyson is expected to walk away from the ring as much as $10m richer. "Everything is for sale," he said a few weeks ago - his homes, his assets and, it seems, the remaining shards of his professional reputation.

Norris is a creditable fighter, but nobody is pretending he approaches the calibre of a Holyfield or a Lennox Lewis. Norris's trainers have admitted that his main interest is to have the chance to fight the legendary Mike Tyson, no matter what the circumstances, and that he will be hard put to last the distance - something no opponent of Tyson's has managed in the past eight years. Bookmakers are favouring Tyson at 10-1 or even 12-1.

"I'm expecting an action-packed fight," Norris said. "I know he is going to hit me. I have to avoid the big bombs... My job is to not get hit with that big shot."

Behind the upbeat rhetoric, there is little doubt the crowd will be baying for blood. Even since his various falls from grace, Tyson has proved well able to let loose the animal within him and go against his own best interests - to the delight of the crowd.

Banned for life after the Holyfield biting incident, he very nearly blew the generous opportunity to be reinstated that the Nevada Athletics Commission offered him this time last year by losing his temper in public and smashing a motorcycle helmet to the ground. His comeback fight in January, in which he stopped Frans Botha in the fifth round, almost ended in renewed recriminations and official sanction. Tyson admitted afterwards that he had tried to break Botha's arm.

Trouble beckoned once again earlier this month, when Tyson said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that given the same set of circumstances he would have bitten off the end of Evander Holyfield's ear any day. This week he tried hard to backtrack. "I was just talking smack, just hyping the fight," he said. "I was just blowing off hot air... The Nevada State Athletic Commission knew I wasn't serious. They knew the trauma that I went through. I won't do that in the ring."

Fine words, but the fans in the Grand Garden Arena may just be a touch disappointed tonight if Tyson, of all people, chooses to stick by them.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Scrum Master (Agile, Java, team recruitment)

£45000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Scrum M...

Junior Asset Manager

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Junior As...

Investment Analyst

£33000 - £40000 Per Annum Discretionary profit share: The Green Recruitment Co...

Project Coordinator

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Project C...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?