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Tyson, Botha Bout Announced

December 9, 1998

LOS ANGELES _ If Mike Tyson is concerned about a possible return to prison, he wasn’t saying Tuesday.

Looking fit in a black muscle T-shirt and wearing a crimson beret, Tyson appeared for a news conference called to announce what promoter Dan Goossen called the worst-kept secret in boxing _ that Tyson will face Francois Botha on Jan. 16.

The 12-round bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, to be carried on Showtime Event Television Pay Per View, will be Tyson’s first since June 28, 1997 when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ears in their heavyweight championship bout and was disqualified in the third round.

Shortly thereafter, the Nevada Athletic Commission stripped Tyson of his boxing license and fined him $3 million. The commission reinstated Tyson’s license in October.

Even before Tyson spoke at the packed Hollywood Athletic Club news conference, adviser Shelly Finkel informed attending reporters and fans that questions wouldn’t be answered regarding ``any pending litigation.″

The first questioner asked Tyson how he felt about a possible return to prison, and was shouted down by others on the dais.

Appearing more relaxed and glib than usual, Tyson then responded to questions _ sometimes with flippant, sarcastic answers, other times with more thoughtful responses.

``I’m not much for talking,″ he said in a one-minute presentation before questions began. ``You guys know what I do. I know no one believes that he (Botha) is going to beat me.″

Asked what round he’d stop Botha, he replied, ``Come to the fight, brother.″

Another questioner asked about a possible future opponent, to which Tyson replied, ``If the price is right, I’ll fight a lion.″

He also said, ``I’m not here because I’ve been voted the nicest guy in the world. I’m just here to give good fights, be a good boy.″

And about the 30-year-old Botha, Tyson said, ``Let’s be nice to this guy, let’s all be nice.″

Tyson has a 45-3 record with 39 knockouts, while Botha is 39-1 with 24 knockouts.

Botha’s only loss came on Nov. 9, 1996 when he was stopped by Michael Moorer in the ninth round for the IBF heavyweight title. Botha has fought just twice this year, stopping two unheralded opponents in the first round.

Earlier in the day in Indianapolis, the judge who could return Tyson to prison said she will await his February sentencing on Maryland assault charges before making a decision.

Judge Patricia Gifford followed a recommendation from probation officer George Walker, who said in a probation report it ``may be desirable to await the outcome″ of misdemeanor assault charges against Tyson in Maryland.

Tyson pleaded no contest there last week. The Montgomery County District Court in Maryland has set Feb. 5 for sentencing, said James Voyles, Tyson’s Indianapolis lawyer.

Tyson served three years for rape in Indiana, and Gifford will decide whether he violated terms of his 1995 parole. Two motorists said he kicked and punched them after an automobile accident in Maryland in August.

``Everyone knows I’m on parole, I’m trying to be nice up here,″ Tyson said during the news conference. ``I’m just here to fight, one fight at a time. I don’t want no trouble from anyone.″

Botha, pretty much shoved to the background, said he felt honored to have the opportunity to face Tyson, an opportunity he said he has been awaiting his entire life.

``He’s in for a rude awakening, that’s all I can say,″ Botha said. ``I come to fight, I don’t come to lay down, and that’s what I intend to do.″

Following the news conference, Goossen, president of America Presents, said it wasn’t his job to concern himself with Tyson’s possible legal problems.

``His lawyers are handling that,″ said Goossen, promoting a Tyson fight for the first time. ``I’m a boxing promoter. My energies have to go strictly toward the promotion.

``I’m working toward Jan. 16, that’s it. I don’t think about it one way or another. My answer is simply, we have to prepare for Jan. 16.″

Goossen also said, ``Mike Tyson’s the biggest act in show business.″

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