Tyson hurts thumb bout is postponed

Fight with Mathis put off indefinitely because of injury

Ex-champ is hurt sparring

Bowe-Holyfield should get a boost

November 01, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- The Mike Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr. non-title heavyweight fight scheduled Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden was postponed indefinitely after Tyson re-injured his right thumb during sparring sessions the past two days.

Tyson, 29, who was continuing the ring comeback that began with his 89-second knockout of Peter McNeeley in August, first injured the thumb more than three weeks ago at his training camp in Orwell, Ohio.

After arriving in Las Vegas in mid-October, he was examined by two orthopedic surgeons, Gerald L. Higgins and Garry S. Marrone. At that time, a break between the main joint and tip of the thumb was revealed.

"Under no circumstances did Mike want to pull out of the fight," said Marrone at a hastily called press conference last night. "We felt that three weeks might be sufficient time to allow the thumb to heal."

The former heavyweight champion felt a twinge in the thumb after a sparring session Monday and did further damage in another workout yesterday, after a noon press conference to promote the Don King card.

X-rays of the thumb yesterday revealed a crack through the healing area.

"When we re-examined Mike [yesterday] there was no way we could allow him to fight," said Marrone. "It will take at least four to six weeks for it to heal again."

"It's definitely a serious setback, but it won't kill me financially," said Tyson, who was guaranteed $10 million. "I was really anticipating fighting because it would have made for a great evening of boxing, with that other fight [Riddick Bowe- Evander Holyfield] going on down the street."

Asked why he decided to go through with the Mathis match after first injuring the thumb, Tyson, wearing a small cast, said, "I thought I could sneak through with it. I wasn't thinking professionally. But the pain became too intense."

Although a Tyson match with new World Boxing Council champion Frank Bruno, of England, had been tentatively scheduled here for March 16, co-manager John Horne said when Tyson is ready to fight again it will "definitely be against Mathis. He is under contract. We just have to get a date cleared by the MGM Grand and Fox-TV."

This is the fifth time an injury or mishap has forced a postponement of a major Tyson match. In 1988, he was involved in a car accident before his first encounter with Bruno.

In 1989, a case of pneumonia forced postponement of his fight with Razor Ruddock. The following year, an eye injury made him delay a match with Alex Stewart. And in 1991, his scheduled fight with Holyfield was canceled due to a rib injury.

The cancellation will be a shot in the arm for Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield III at Caesars Palace, also scheduled for Saturday night.

Bowe-Holyfield ticket sales had lagged in direct competition with Tyson-Mathis, which was to be shown free on the Fox network. Caesars Palace's Rich Rose had predicted a crowd of 10,000 for Bowe-Holyfield, some 5,000 below capacity in the outdoor arena. A sellout is now possible.

The Tyson-Mathis fight had begun to unravel Monday when Tyson, in his first public workout for the media in four years, ended his sparring after going three rounds against 265-pound Tyrone Evans. Three more rounds had been planned against another sparring mate, but Tyson, shaking his right fist, left the ring and indicated the workout was over.

"It just felt a little strange," he said, pointing to his thumb.

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