By BRIAN LANDMAN, FRANK PASTOR, TIMES WIRES
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 20, 2003
TUNICA, Miss. -- Mike Tyson was more eager to show off the new tattoo on his face than to show off his fighting shape. The tattoo looked real, but Clifford Etienne's camp was not sure about anything else.
The circuslike atmosphere surrounding Tyson moved Wednesday to the string of casinos along the Mississippi River, where the former heavyweight champion worked out before emerging to give the world a peek at his tattoo.
A day after Tyson decided to fight, it was Etienne's turn to change his mind about Saturday's bout in Memphis. He decided almost $1-million was too much to pass up. "I'm a fighter, not a coward," Etienne said. "I thought about it all night. I didn't work all these months to get in shape without going out and being able to do my thing."
Tyson's trainer said Tyson was discouraged about his workout after a week out of the gym and still was feeling the effects of flulike symptoms.
Etienne's manager, Les Bonano, said he doubted Tyson was sick and said he believed Tyson had been working out all along.
DE LA HOYA BOUT: Oscar De La Hoya will defend his super-welterweight title May 3 against Yory Boy Campas in Las Vegas. It is a tuneup bout for De La Hoya (35-2, 28 KOs), who likely will fight Shane Mosley or Fernando Vargas in September. Erik Morales also is on the card, defending his WBC featherweight title against Bobby Boy Velardez.
MUNOZ SHOT: Super-flyweight champion Alexander Munoz was shot in the knee Sunday while jogging in Caracas, Venezuela. The 24-year-old, who tried to fight off three assailants, had surgery and is expected to recover within weeks. Munoz has won all 23 of his bouts by knockout, holding the WBA title since March.
LeBron James is getting another classic sports jersey -- his own. St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) officials plan to retire James' No. 23 jersey after the school's regular-season finale Sunday against Toledo Scott at Akron's Rhodes Arena. The jersey will be mounted in the school's gymnasium after James graduates in June. James had been ruled ineligible by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Jan. 31 for accepting two retro sports jerseys for free from a clothing store. He will sit out the game as part of a two-game suspension handed down by Summit County Common Pleas Judge James R. Williams this month.
Jennifer Capriati won for the first time this year, defeating Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the Dubai Open. Third-seeded Capriati defeated her 17-year-old opponent in less than an hour. Capriati lost her past two matches -- in the Australian Open and a tournament in Sydney. BLAKE ADVANCES: Third-seeded James Blake of Tampa opened with four aces, beating Jiri Vanek in 39 minutes at the Kroger St. Jude tournament in Memphis. "I don't remember ever finishing a match that quickly," said Blake, who reached the first final of his career in Memphis last year.
ARENA FOOTBALL: The Storm released kicker Pete Elezovic, who missed three of four extra-point attempts and both field-goal attempts in Monday's 61-55 loss at Las Vegas. Tampa Bay expects to sign a replacement this week.
COLLEGES: Florida State junior outfielder/pitcher Jessica van der Linden, who hit. 692 with five RBIs and three runs scored and won both starts in last weekend's Sunshine State tournament, was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's national player of the week. She is the third Seminole to be so honored.
HORSES: Harlan's Holiday, last year's Kentucky Derby favorite, opened as the 8-5 choice for Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Harlan's Holiday drew the outside pole for the 11/8-mile feature for horses 3 years and older. Also, Mark Shuman set a Gulfstream trainer record, saddling his 40th winner of the season. He surpassed Bill Mott's 1996 mark of 39.