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Rusty Mathis Still Insists He Can Beat Tyson

December 7, 1995

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Buster Mathis Jr. had the excuses ready after a lackluster sparring session Thursday in preparation for his Dec. 16 fight against Mike Tyson.

``I got in late last night. I was still tired. I was exhausted,″ Mathis said. ``Sparring’s just sparring. Watch me Dec. 16.″

But don’t be late, if Mathis’ six rounds against two sparring partners were any indication.

In contrast to Tyson’s first workout Wednesday, when he knocked down Nate Tubbs, Mathis took solid blows from his sparring partners during the 1 1/2-hour workout at Joe Frazier’s Gym.

Observers who watched both workouts wondered whether this fight will last much longer than Tyson’s first out of prison after a three-year term for rape. In the Aug. 19 bout, unknown Peter McNeeley lasted 89 seconds.

Mathis, though, insisted he can beat Tyson, the former heavyweight champion.

``He ain’t no Superman,″ he said. ``A lot of people ... take Mike Tyson and blow him up and make him larger than he is.″

Mathis said his plan begins with not being intimidated by Tyson, something he said his father, who lost a heavyweight title fight to Frazier in 1968, told him before dying Sept. 6.

``Mike Tyson is the master of intimidation,″ Mathis said. ``As long as I don’t let Mike Tyson intimidate me, I’ve won half the battle.″

The other half of the battle won’t be any easier, but Mathis said he will attempt to prolong the fight as long as possible.

``My goal is to bring Mike Tyson into the later rounds,″ he said. ``Mike Tyson is predictable. He’s going to come in and throw left hooks, right hands, uppercuts and he’ll go wide. He’ll be coming like a madman.

``I’m going to bring it to him. I’m going to move my head. I’m going to slip and throw punches.″

Mathis knows Don King and Team Tyson picked him because they felt he would be no threat. He said he intends to show them that was a mistake.

``I’m glad that people are underestimating me,″ he said. ``I’ve got nothing to lose, and that’s how I’m going to fight. I’m going for broke, plain and simple.″

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