(Props: Steven Lott)
Last month we told you that former boxing great Mike Tyson was becoming a fight promoter. At the time, he said he hoped to do right by the fighters signed to his promotion and not take advantage of them the way past promoters like Don King had done with him during Tyson’s career.
At his first press conference as a boxing promoter (video above), Tyson repeated that goal and hyped an ESPN 2 Friday Night Fights card scheduled for tonight at 9 p.m. ET with his characteristic mixture of humility, profanity, and wisdom.
“I’m a little nervous here but I’m just excited to be involved with this whole establishment,” Tyson told the assembled reporters.
As expected, the questions he fielded from reporters were mostly about Tyson himself. At a certain point, “Iron Mike” tried to bring the focus back to the fighters on the card, encouraging them to pick up their mics and promote themselves.
“I need some of these fighters to come up here and say “I’m going to kill him” or something. I need him to talk about his mother. We need to sell tickets. Come on man. This guy’s a bomber and he’s a gentleman,” Tyson said referring to his main event fighters.
It was interesting that Tyson insisted on not calling the combatants “his” fighters, however. “I don’t own anybody. Those days are over,” Tyson said.
The former champion did try to pass along some advice to the young fighters, however. “I can’t stop nobody from abusing themselves because they couldn’t stop me from abusing myself but what I can do is give this champion his check personally and his manager won’t get it,” he began.
“I can give it to him personally and, I don’t know if his manager is a crappy ass manager but he can give it to his crappy ass manager…don’t give him the check, champ. Just pay him, don’t give him the check. Just pay him his fee, don’t give him the whole check. Motherfucker.”
Tyson also spoke of MMA’s effect on boxing. “It overshadowed boxing so much because boxing has been so predictable,” he said.
“And, it has a lot to do with the officials in boxing when they give those horrible decisions…these bad decisions that they’ve been giving is turning people away from boxing. It is so overt…people want to see action. People want to see the two best fighters in the world fight.”
Tyson got “on a roll,” receiving applause from those in the room when he spoke about the need to reform boxing ethics and match-making, and floated another idea — fans deciding who gets to fight who. “You all guys should be able to put in a text and let us know who you want to fight.”
As if it weren’t already abundantly clear, however, Tyson made sure that reporters knew he would not ever compete again himself. “I never want to get in the ring again, ok,” Mike maintained.
“I almost got killed. I just enjoy being around these guys. I understand what these guys are going through.”