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Bruno: Prison Didn’t Help Tyson Wise Up

February 28, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Frank Bruno is serving notice that he won’t be playing the role of respectful opponent in the final weeks leading up to his March 16 WBC heavyweight title defense against Mike Tyson.

Angered by the actions of Tyson’s entourage during their first prefight press conference together, Bruno questioned whether Tyson learned anything while serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence for rape.

``I thought prison was supposed to wise you up and make you a better man,″ Bruno said. ``He’s getting worse, to be honest, both in the ring and out of the ring.″

Bruno, who lost to Tyson on a fifth-round knockout when the two first met seven years ago, was clearly irked after being heckled by members of Tyson’s entourage during the press conference.

He refrained from getting in a shouting match with the entourage, but criticized Tyson later for their actions.

``The way these people go on is not good for boxing,″ Bruno said. ``I’m here to bring a little class to the sport.″

Bruno was the only one doing much talking, a few days after leaving his Canary Island training camp to come here for final preparations for the title fight.

Tyson made little effort to answer even the most basic questions before bringing the press conference to an abrupt close by getting up to leave.

``I’m just confident in what I’m capable of doing,″ the former heavyweight champion said in a typical response.

About the only time Tyson came close to revealing anything about the fight was when he predicted he would beat Bruno.

``It’s interesting Mr. Bruno is talking very brave and courageous,″ Tyson said. ``We’ll see.″

Long after Tyson left the room at the MGM Grand Hotel, Bruno was still holding court, eager to talk about the first defense of the WBC title he won from Oliver McCall.

``Now is payback time. Now is the time for revenge,″ Bruno said. ``I can’t wait to get my hands on him, and I’m not saying that to sell tickets because I don’t get any percentage. I’m talking out of my heart.″

Bruno brought his WBC title belt with him, taking it out of a bag and placing it in front of him. It took Bruno nearly 14 years in the ring and four title shots before finally beating McCall by decision on Sept. 2 in London to win the title.

Under the contract he signed with promoter Don King to fight McCall, Bruno agreed to fight Tyson in one of his first three title defenses. It was King’s option as to which defense that would be, and he chose the first.

``Tyson made the decision,″ King said. ``The contract we have was that he would fight four non-title fights before fighting for a title. Everybody was criticizing his first two fights and he said he wanted to go for the title in this one.″

Tyson has fought twice since his release from prison.

It was also in Bruno’s contract that he would have to fight Tyson at the MGM, where he will have to be content with the support of only a few thousand British fans.

``I would have liked to defend it in England. I would have rather stayed home, but I’m a pro,″ Bruno said. ``I’m not afraid to fight him in his home or in the prison where he was.″

Bruno was reportedly upset over not getting a percentage of the pay-per-view rights in England, the first pay-per-view fight in that country. He is getting about $6 million to fight Tyson, who King said would earn nearly $30 million for his challenge.

``I’m not a greedy man, but Tyson is getting 16 to 20 times more than I’m getting,″ Bruno said. ``Would you be happy if you were the champion and were being treated like the challenger?″

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