SBJ/September 28 - October 4, 1998/No Topic Name

Tyson camp ready for the next round

The Mike Tyson money machine may get rolling in time to save the troubled fighter, once ranked as the wealthiest athlete in the world, from declaring personal bankruptcy.

If Tyson gets his boxing license back from the Nevada Athletic Commission, his comeback fight could be announced as soon as two weeks after the decision, said Jay Larkin, senior vice president of sports and events for Showtime.

Showtime does "have a deal" to broadcast the next Tyson fight, but reports that Showtime will pay Tyson $33 million if he is granted his license "are a total fabrication," Larkin said.

He indicated, however, that Showtime may be paying Tyson soon. "I can tell you that Mike Tyson will not get a dime from Showtime unless there is a fight in place and revenues start to flow from that fight," Larkin said.

For Tyson's sake, the money had better start to flow quickly.

If Tyson does not fight by the end of 1998, "he may have no option but to declare and file personal bankruptcy," Michael Karlin, Tyson's accountant, said in a letter to the Nevada Athletic Commission.

The commission continued a hearing on Tyson's request for a new license from Sept. 17 until Saturday to allow an independent psychiatrist to examine the former heavyweight champion. Tyson has not fought since June 1997, when he bit both of Evander Holyfield's ears in an infamous fight. His license was revoked by the Nevada Athletic Commission that July.

Since then, Tyson has broken off his longtime relationship with promoter Don King and sued King for at least $100 million.

Tyson owes $12.6 million to the Internal Revenue Service and other taxing authorities, and his three residences are under a lien to the IRS, according to the letter from Karlin, a partner at NKS Management Inc.

"It is our hope that the Service will not levy or seize the properties since, if Mike is permitted to fight again this year, he will be in a position to provide full payment to the IRS by December of 1998," Karlin said.

Larkin declined to reveal how much Tyson would be paid for the next fight. But at a Nevada Athletic Commission hearing on Sept. 17, Tyson said, "If I get relicensed again, I'm probably going to make $300 million."

Despite Tyson's problems, including a rape conviction and recent allegations that he punched and kicked two motorists after a car accident in Maryland, the fighter is a major box-office draw.

Tyson, once ranked by Forbes as the wealthiest athlete in the world, is the undisputed king of pay-per-view. Tyson's fights make up six of the top 10 grossing pay-per-view events of all time, including the 1997 Tyson-Holyfield match, which grossed $99 million.

Tyson's attorneys testified at the hearing that the 32-year-old fighter may have just three years left to fight in major bouts.

Jeff Wald, one of Tyson's new boxing advisers, said that Tyson could probably fight in 12 more major fights before retiring and that the next one would likely take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"We owe a debt to the MGM Grand," Wald said, adding that he has had recent conversations with the hotel's owner, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

The MGM had to close for two hours when a melee broke out shortly after Tyson's last fight was stopped because of the biting incident. Despite that incident, however, the MGM would be "delighted" to host another Tyson fight, said a source close to the hotel.

Larkin stressed that he does not yet have a deal, but he is talking to representatives of "recognizable" name fighters for the next Tyson bout. Larkin declined to identify the fighters he was considering but said the next fight would not feature Holyfield.

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