Tyson camp seeks quick rescheduling Mathis bout now sought for December or January

November 02, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- Countering rumors that there was more to the cancellation of the Mike Tyson-Buster Mathis fight scheduled for Saturday night than Tyson's broken right thumb, co-manager John Horne began negotiations with representatives of the MGM Grand and Fox television to reschedule the match for mid-December or January.

But neither spokesmen for Fox nor the MGM Grand was prepared yesterday to announce a new fight date.

"We're currently reviewing the situation with everyone concerned, but nothing has been settled," said MGM Grand publicist Bill Doak.

Two Las Vegas orthopedic surgeons recommended Tuesday afternoon that Tyson, who first injured the thumb three weeks ago, then reinjured it in sparring sessions Monday and Tuesday, should not box for four to six weeks to allow complete healing.

"It would have been immoral for us to let Tyson fight," said Dr. Gerald Higgins.

Horne said the former champion will continue to condition himself in Ohio and could be ready to go through with the Mathis match in six weeks time if the MGM Grand and Fox can agree on a date.

It is possible the fight could be held Super Bowl weekend in January, one of the best weeks in terms of business for the Las Vegas casinos. The MGM Grand has staged two previous championship cards in that time period.

"We're first concerned about Mike's healing process," said Horne, "but we're looking forward to fighting Mathis next, and we're firmly committed to Fox television."

Horne said he is also sticking to Tyson's planned March 16 bout with Frank Bruno for the Englishman's World Boxing Council title. That fight is tentatively scheduled for the MGM Grand.

Asked if there was any thought to keeping Tyson's injury a secret and going through with the Saturday bout with Mathis, Horne said: "In my heart, Mike can beat any fighter on a given night, but we weren't going to risk a serious injury that could keep him out for eight months.

"As soon as he gets hurt, it's easy to say, 'Let's call it off.' But you have to listen to the fighter, and Mike still wanted to fight after he reinjured the hand Monday.

"But we have to consider long-range goals. Mike is only human, just like [Orlando Magic center] Shaquille O'Neill, who will be out 27 games with a broken thumb."

Horne was asked to address speculation that the fight was canceled because of lagging ticket sales at the MGM Grand, that Tyson was not mentally ready for his second comeback fight and because of the absence of promoter Don King from the fight scene because of his trial in New York on insurance fraud charges.

"I don't answer to ghosts," Horne said.

He was advised that Seth Abraham, president of TVKO, which is showing Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield III on pay-per-view from Caesars Palace on Saturday night, said only 1,600 seats had been sold for the Tyson-Mathis bout,

Doak reported that the MGM Grand had "7,000 committed tickets" and expected sales to reach 10,000.

Said Horne: "Ticket sales didn't concern us. We were already up to $10 million to $15 million in foreign sales."

Tyson had been guaranteed $10 million from his separate deals with Fox and the MGM Grand.

Mathis, who was fighting for a career-high $800,000 purse, first suggested Tyson's injury was "a fake," but later retracted his remarks.

"I know now he's not bluffing, but I'm still upset," said the unbeaten heavyweight contender. "This fight was a great opportunity for me. I was ready, mentally and physically."

Abraham dismissed any notion the Tyson injury was staged.

"In no way do I believe it was a fake," he said. "I was personally involved at HBO with 17 of Tyson's professional fights and I know he would never duck a fight."

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