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Tyson Trains in Maui for Lewis Fight

May 1, 2002

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WAILEA, Hawaii (AP) _ Mike Tyson was enjoying another day in paradise, which on Tuesday could be found outside the door of his $1,500-a-night villa only a few steps from the gentle surf off Maui’s southern coast.

An afternoon storm was threatening, but Tyson hardly noticed as he sat on the edge of a couch talking about life, love, philosophy and, oh yes, Lennox Lewis.

Amid the tranquility of island life, Tyson has secluded himself in preparation for the fight of his life, June 8 against Lewis for the heavyweight championship.

He says he’s here to train and not to have fun. You believe it when research shows there’s not one strip club on the island that could lead to possible trouble.

``I found that out once I got here,″ Tyson said. ``I’m here to do a job. I work as hard as I play and I haven’t been out since I’ve been here.″

To Tyson’s handlers, that kind of talk is more welcome than anything he has to say about Lewis. They’re the ones holding their breath that the former champion won’t do anything silly to jeopardize a lucrative payday next month.

On the mainland, he might be out partying and getting in trouble, as happened just before he left for Maui when he got into an altercation with a dancer and her boyfriend at a Phoenix strip club.

Here, he can watch the ocean from his living room at the whitewashed Fairmont Kea Lani, run on the beach in the morning and train in relative solitude at a tiny gym nearby.

``It was a good idea coming here,″ Tyson said. ``I came here one time when I was married and I didn’t have a good time. Now I’m having a good time.″

Why didn’t he have a good time when he and his wife, Monica, whom he’s divorcing, came here before, Tyson was asked.

``I didn’t want to be married,″ he said.

Just a week or so into serious training for Lewis, Tyson appeared trim and fit already as he entertained a small group of writers who traveled to Maui to see him.

He appeared happy to see them, talking for nearly an hour nonstop about everything from his childhood to his favorite authors to his problems with women.

He even had some thoughts about what might happen in the ring in Memphis, Tenn., where he will find himself an underdog for perhaps the first time in his career.

``My main objective is to be professional but to kill him,″ Tyson said of Lewis. ``That’s what it comes to. He should want to kill me because I want to kill him. But I still love him.″

Tyson, whose problems in and out of the ring have threatened to short-circuit his career, alternated between waxing philosophical about his life to facing the reality of what it has become.

He tried to analyze almost every question thrown at him, except one. When asked about the possibility of losing to Lewis, he was short and to the point.

``I can’t foresee losing. I can’t even conceive the fact of losing,″ he said. ``Not in my sleep, nothing.″

Tyson’s public relations team had warned writers to keep the questions about boxing, saying the former champion might terminate the interview if he was asked anything uncomfortable.

But there was nothing Tyson wouldn’t answer, and he did it in an affable way even when he challenged the sexual and drinking habits of the person asking the question.

``I’m not in a mood to be upset and go into a tirade,″ he said. ``Maybe in a few weeks I will be.″

Tyson, who plans to stay in Maui until 10 days before the fight, did, however, take exception to a line of questioning about the island not being the best place to build up a rage against an opponent the likes of Lewis.

``How would you get ready for a fight?″ he asked. ``I’ve been uncomfortable all my life. This should be fun. The fight will be fun so why shouldn’t this be fun.″

Fun, yes. But Tyson is in Maui because he goes out to have too much fun elsewhere. He knows that, and he knows what he has to work on outside the ring.

``I’ve just got to get in proper preparation psychologically,″ he said. ``Be hungry and determined. But it’s just a fight.″

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