Seldon expects fight fireworks But odds favor Tyson to beat WBA champ

September 06, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- Bruce Seldon can close his eyes and visualize what will happen when he comes face to face with Mike Tyson in the ring at the MGM Grand tomorrow night.

"It will be a great night," said the World Boxing Association champion. "Fireworks will be exploding, lights will be flashing, cameras will be snapping and microphones will be burning. When my left jab starts popping Tyson, and my right hand starts connecting, believe me, something spectacular will happen.

"This is the fight that will lift me to another level. Not only will it give me super-stardom, but it will give the boxing world what it wants -- a champion in and out of the ring."

But others see Seldon's dream as pure fantasy, a belief shared by the casino sports books that list him a 22-to-1 underdog. This skepticism is based on Seldon's performances against quality opponents.

In April 1991, the Atlantic City native, fighting in his hometown, quit on his stool after tiring badly against Oliver McCall, who used the victory as a steppingstone to gaining the World Boxing Council crown.

But Seldon's one-round annihilation by Riddick Bowe four months later caused some to view him as lacking substance in his chiseled 230-pound body.

"I wish there was a statute of limitations on that Bowe fight," said Seldon's co-manager, Rocco DePersia. "Bruce is a totally different fighter than he was five years ago. He's bigger, stronger, and more mature.

"Tyson has lost, too, if you remember," DePersia added, recalling the former champ's shocking upset by Buster Douglas in 1990. "Tyson and Seldon aren't from different planets. That Bruce is such an underdog is an indictment of the way the public perceives him."

Seldon (35-3), who claimed a piece of the heavyweight crown in April 1995 by stopping shopworn Tony Tucker in seven rounds, would like people to believe that he is a legitimate champion.

He says he does not hold Tyson in awe.

"I'll shake the man's hand, but you won't see me kissing his butt," said Seldon.

Respect the man, yes, but not the palpable fear that gripped Frank Bruno when he found himself in an 18-foot square ring against the fight game's most frightening practitioner.

"Tyson has a great style of fighting," Seldon acknowledged. "But that's it. He's strictly a fighter. I can fight and box, and that will be the key to winning. I've got height and reach on him, and when he sees I won't be bullied, he'll grow frustrated.

"I know he thinks he can bulldoze me in five rounds, but I'll be standing in front of him, letting him know I'm not afraid. Telling him, 'Yeah, but can you do this and this?' "

The fact that Tyson, since launching his comeback last year, has dispatched Peter McNeeley, Buster Mathis Jr. and Bruno without breaking a sweat, does not impress Seldon.

"I'm the most athletic guy he's faced since getting out of jail," he said. "I think he's lost a lot of his desire. He's fought guys who posed no threat."

Seldon, 29, has much in common with Tyson.

As a youth, he had the reputation of being an incorrigible hood. Caught staging an armed robbery at 16, he was sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security prison in Annandale, N.J., where he learned to box.

Paroled at 19, Seldon remembers the heartache of facing his mother, whose health had suffered from her son's failings.

"When they opened that big metal gate," he said, "my mother was waiting, with tears in her eyes, begging me to learn from my mistakes. I said, 'Mama, there has to be a better way. I ain't never going back to the prison.' "

He turned pro in 1988 and used his first decent purses to move his mother out of a ghetto shanty into a modern duplex in nearby Brigantine, N.J.

Seldon seems to know that beating Tucker proved little to critics. To duplicate Douglas' knockout of Tyson in 1990 would make him an overnight wonder.

"I want this to be a great fight -- one the fans will remember forever," he said. "And when, one day, I decide to retire, people will look at me and say, 'There goes Bruce Seldon, a great fighter, and a great person, too.' "

Fight facts

Who: Mike Tyson (44-1, 38 KOs), Catskill, N.Y., vs. Bruce Seldon (33-3, 29 KOs), Atlantic City

What: For Seldon's World Boxing Association heavyweight title

When: Tomorrow. Showtime pay-per-view telecast ($49) will start approximately 6 p.m.

Where: Las Vegas, MGM Grand Garden (15,222)

?3 Purses: Tyson, $15 million. Seldon, $5 million.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.