Rib-cage pain KOs Tyson Cartilage damage jeopardizes fight

October 20, 1991|By Wallace Matthews | Wallace Matthews,Newsday

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Happy Birthday, Evander. You just lost $30 million.

Mike Tyson has pulled out of his Nov. 8 fight with undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield due to what was being described as a "non-contact cartilage injury" to his left rib cage.

Yesterday was Holyfield's 29th birthday, and it is safe to assume it was not be a happy one.

"This has been a very tough fight, and it's not getting any better," said Holyfield's manager, Shelly Finkel, who tried unsuccessfully to reach Holyfield Friday night and left a message on his telephone answering machine that the fight was off.

Tyson was originally injured in training Oct. 8 and went to a Las Vegas clinic for X-rays, which were said to be negative. %o According to a news release issued Friday night by TVKO, which was to televise the fight on pay-per-view from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Tyson reinjured himself Tuesday and Friday was recommended to pull out of the bout by Dr. Gerald Higgins, a Las Vegas orthopedic surgeon. According to the release, Higgins said Tyson would require six to eight weeks to heal.

A postponement of that length would move the bout to early 1992. Tyson is scheduled to go on trial for rape in Indianapolis Jan. 27, but according to Dan Duva, the bout's promoter, Tyson's camp moved last week to get the trial moved back. The motion has not yet been ruled upon. "They told me that was unrelated to the injury," Duva said.

Asked if he thought the fight was in jeopardy of never happening, Finkel said, "Of course, it is."

Holyfield's camp feared the fight might be postponed when it originally heard Tyson had been injured in training. "I said to Danny, 'Jesus Christ, I lope this guy's not setting up a tanker on us,' " said Lou Duva, an assistant trainer for Holyfield.

According to Tyson's camp coordinator, John Horne, Tyson suffered the injury doing sit-ups. But earlier this week, Tyson's trainer, Richie Giachetti, called a Kansas boxing equipment company to order rib protectors, and Al Braverman, director of boxing for Don King Productions, doubted that such an injury could occur anywhere but in sparring.

"How else could he get it?," Braverman said. "He must have got whacked in the side. Whatever else they're telling you is bull. . . . "

When the original story was uncovered last week by Newsday, USA Today and a Las Vegas TV station, the Tyson camp vehemently denied it and tried to discredit the integrity of the reporters who broke it.

In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, Tyson deflected questions about the injury, insisting he was in top shape. Friday night, Braverman said: "So what if it is true? What's the big deal if we deny it? This is boxing. There's more rumors and lies than anything else."

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