© St. Petersburg Times, published February 19, 2003
LAS VEGAS -- Just when it seemed Mike Tyson's world couldn't get more bizarre, he outdid himself.
Faced with an uncertain future and the reality of throwing away a reported $5-million-plus payday, Tyson woke up in a better mood Tuesday and pronounced himself ready to fight after all.
A day before, Tyson backed out of Saturday's bout against Clifford Etienne. Now, though, Etienne says he doesn't want to fight, leaving the former heavyweight champion in need of another opponent.
Tyson boarded a chartered jet Tuesday to Memphis.
Earlier in the day, trainer Freddie Roach said he told Tyson that he didn't think he was ready for the fight but would stand behind him. After Tyson landed, Roach sounded more confident: "He's ready to fight. I don't care who they put out in front of him."
While Tyson's mood swings are well known, Etienne had a little fit of his own and refused to fight.
"I'm going to show him I don't have to live by Mike's rules," Etienne said.
Etienne's manager, Les Bonano, said the boxer was adamant: "He's not going to fight. It's official. But in this world, who knows?"
Promoters said they had four fighters lined up to replace Etienne if he went through with his threat.
Florida State defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who police say received $1,000 worth of sports apparel for about $100 and was charged with felony grand theft, will have the chance to accept a plea offer on March 3. Although assistant state attorney Wade White would not discuss the specifics of his offer, he said that Dockett, a first-time offender, likely would not see jail time and the judge likely would withhold a formal finding of guilt. "I don't know what he's going to do," White said. Dockett's attorney, Matthew Willard, could not be reached for comment.
PAY TO PLAY: A proposal to pay Nebraska's players cleared a legislative hurdle when the Business and Labor Committee voted unanimously to advance the measure for debate before the Legislature. State Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill would require players be paid a stipend if three other states with schools in the Big 12 pass similar laws.
RULE CHANGE: The NCAA Rules Committee has eliminated the 2-yard "halo" rule on kick returns. Returners still must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the kick. The penalty for failing to do that or for contacting a player who has signaled for a fair catch will be 15 yards.
LAS VEGAS BOWL: SEGA Sports chose not to exercise its sponsorship option for a third year, and organizers are switching the game from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve.
Team E-Caps Florida, comprised of Kip Koelsch and Jessica Koelsch of St. Petersburg, Darren Clarke of Fort Lauderdale (by way of Australia) and Shawn Dietrich of Clearwater, won the the 125-mile Adventurous Concepts Undercover Adventure Race last weekend in Southwest Florida. The team, which had to finish together to win the race, paddled down the Peace River, mountain-biked and trekked through the Carlton Reserve and traversed the Myakka River on ropes, winning with a time of 18 hours, 20 minutes.
Monica Seles defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the Dubai Open. Seles, seeded fourth, was knocked out in the second round of the Qatar Open last week. Former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez defeated Rita Grande 6-3, 6-2, and Patty Schnyder beat Nicole Pratt 6-4, 7-5.
ABN AMRO: Tim Henman was beaten in his first match since shoulder surgery in November, losing to Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 6-2 in the first round in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Top-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Wayne Arthurs 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), and Yevgeny Kafelnikov celebrated his 29th birthday by defeating Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-0.
KROGER ST. JUDE: Top-seeded Andy Roddick played without pain in his wrist and beat Cecil Mamiit 6-4, 6-4 in the first round in Memphis in his first match since reaching the semifinals of last month's Australian Open. Second-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan beat Michael Chang 6-4, 6-2.
RUNNING: American Coby Miller won the 60 meters in 6.54 seconds at the GE Galan indoor meet in Stockholm for his second victory of the season.
OLYMPICS: Vancouver residents vote Saturday on whether they want to host the 2010 Winter Games. Also bidding for the Games are Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.
COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Sophomore Casey Hunter threw a no-hitter, striking out 11 of the 24 batters she faced as host Florida State beat Florida A&M 5-0.
OBITUARY: Jim Gordon, the former radio voice of New York Giants football and Rangers hockey, died Monday at 76 of cancer at his home in Putnam Valley, N.Y.