Boxing: Tyson to apply for licence to fight in California

Kieran Daley
Friday 01 February 2002 01:00

Mike Tyson is hoping to fight Lennox Lewis in California. His agent, Shelly Finkel, said yesterday that the former world heavyweight champion will apply for a licence in California with a view to meeting Lewis at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

"We would very much like to hold the fight there," Finkel said. The Staples Center president, Tim Leiweke, said: "It's up to the commission. Assuming they approve, yes, we would be interested – but it's such a fluid situation right now."

Tyson had wanted to hold the bout in Las Vegas on 6 April. But the Nevada State Commission denied him a licence, citing his role in a press conference brawl last week in New York, and his decision not to continue the psychological treatment and medication that had been prescribed for him more than three years ago.

Rodney Berman, who promoted a title fight between Lewis and Hasim Rahman last year, is eager to bring Lewis back to South Africa. "I am talking to the Lewis camp and plan to give them an offer," Berman said. Lewis lost to Rahman in a surprise fifth-round knock-out, but won the November re-match. It would be a great thing if the Lewis-Tyson fight was staged here," Phil Nyamane, a veteran boxing writer, said. "Just the name Tyson conjures up pictures of violence. If he came, mobs would greet him at the airport."

Any hopes Tyson may have had of returning to Denmark, where he beat Brian Nielsen last October, were dashed yesterday when Jess Andreasen, the chairman of the Danish Professional Boxing Federation, said his organisation could not issue a licence for an American to fight there.

Andreasen said that Tyson must either have a permanent residence in Denmark or must live in a country where professional boxing is banned, such as Sweden or Norway, even though Tyson held a US licence when he fought Nielsen. The father and daughter promoting team, Mogens and Bettina Palle, have said they would be happy to stage the bout in Copenhagen.

Tyson's troubled life outside the ring may in any case prevent him fighting Lewis anywhere. Las Vegas police said on Wednesday that they will ask prosecutors this week to charge Tyson with sexual assault and were investigating allegations by a second woman that the former world champion raped her. If charges are pressed, Tyson will almost certainly be barred from leaving the United States.

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