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Foreman Would Like Tyson at 50

January 7, 1999

It doesn’t appear likely George Foreman will celebrate his 50th birthday with a fight _ at least not a scheduled one in the ring.

The Birthday Bash between Foreman, who turns 50 Sunday, and 49-year-old Larry Holmes on Jan. 23 in the Houston Astrodome appears to be dead.

Foreman is unhappy that promoter Roger Levitt missed two deadlines for payment of the remaining $9 million of his $10 million purse and was not satisfied when Levitt on Monday posted a guaranteed insurance bond instead of a letter of credit.

So if big George celebrates his 50th birthday with a fight, somebody might have to call the cops.

The former heavyweight champion still might fight at 50, something he has often talked about doing.

So, if not Holmes, how about 32-year-old Mike Tyson, who is scheduled to launch his latest comeback against Francois Botha, a native of South Africa, Jan. 16 in the MGM Grand Garden at Las Vegas.

``I’ve talked to George, and George said he would be interested in fighting Tyson,″ promoter Bob Arum said.

Arum said he has not talked to Shelly Finkel, Tyson’s boxing advisor, about Iron Mike fighting Foreman, but that he planned to do so next week.

``It has the potential of being the biggest (financial) fight ever,″ Arum said.

Noting the vast difference between the two fighters’ personalities and images, Arum added, ``People would have to be intrigued.″

While Foreman has not been promoted by Arum for some time, Arum said that ``when I let George, go I retained the right to promote him if he fought Tyson, but I never thought it would happen.″

A Foreman-Tyson fight, of course, would draw criticism from various areas. Boxing purists would see it as a sideshow. Some people would argue that a 50-year-old man doesn’t belong in the ring with even a faded Tyson, that it’s much too risky. Others would say Foreman should not risk tarnishing his image by fighting a man whose image will be forever tarnished.

But a Foreman-Tyson match is intriguing.

Foreman cannot match Tyson in speed. On the other hand, age and inactivity have robbed Tyson of the speed that made him unbeatable in the late 1980s. Also, Tyson’s size _ he is a small heavyweight _ dictates he must attack. That’s what Joe Frazier did when he was stopped in the second round by Foreman in 1974.

Foreman, of course, doesn’t put punches together like he did back then. He’s depends mostly on a stiff left jab and occasional rights. But he still hits hard.

Foreman also would have the benefit of knowing he would have nothing to lose. Tyson would have to fight with the knowledge that his considerable achievements in boxing would be trampled on by a loss to a 50-year-old opponent.

So why would Tyson want to take the risk?

Why not, wondered Arum.

``Tyson may very well be at the stage of his career where anybody who can fight a little bit could be dangerous,″ he said.

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