February 23, 2003
MEMPHIS -- In desperate need of a devastating win, Mike Tyson got just that Saturday night at the Pyramid, flattening Clifford Etienne with a savage right hand reminiscent of the 36-year-old in his prime.
Etienne was knocked flat on his back in the middle of the ring and lay there as referee Bill Clancy counted him out 49 seconds into the scheduled 10-round heavyweight fight at the Pyramid.
Tyson then leaned over and helped Etienne to his feet as the crowd of 15,171 erupted at the sudden ending to a fight that seemed like it would never happen.
On the undercard, St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy ran his pro record to 13-0 by stopping James Crawford with three seconds left in the second round.
Lacy, the hard-hitting super-middleweight, landed a low left at the outset of the second round, and Crawford was given more than four minutes to recuperate. When the fight continued, Lacy landed combinations, then knocked Crawford down with a left hook with 25 seconds left.
Lacy ended it with a sharp right cross three seconds before the bell.
Fighting in the same ring where Lennox Lewis gave him a beating in June, Tyson went right after Etienne, who cooperated by standing in front of him and throwing punches back.
It proved a mistake when Tyson threw a right hand that landed flush on Etienne's jaw and sent him sprawling to the canvas.
It was the sixth-quickest knockout for Tyson and the 16th in the first 1:33 of the first round or earlier. He needed it to salvage his chances of a rematch with Lewis or a possible third fight with Evander Holyfield.
"To be honest, I'm not ready to fight (Lewis) at this time," Tyson said. "I need more fights. I don't want to get beat up again."
Etienne was picked as an opponent because he figured to give Tyson an easy target, and he didn't disappoint.
"I kept my hands up looking for the opening and I got it," Tyson said.
Etienne has a tendency to go down -- seven times in one of his fights -- and was selected because of his style of fighting right in front of an opponent.
"This was the way I had to fight him," Etienne said. "How else could I fight him? I'm okay. He caught me with a good punch."
After the fight, Etienne whispered some advice to Tyson: "I just told Mike to stick to business. Stop screwing around and fight. I said if he kept working hard, he could be champion again."
Lacy's win was somewhat tarnished when Crawford struggled to finish the second round after he was knocked down when Lacy landed a left below the belt.
"The low blow is what really messed me up," Crawford said. "He really hurt me."
Lacy, a 2000 Olympian, has 11 wins by knockout.
In another fight on the undercard, Tonya Harding lost in her pro debut. In a bout that had fans howling, the former figure skating champion lost a split decision to Samantha Browning.
In a junior lightweight fight, former IBF champion Diego Corrales stopped Colombia's Roque Cassiani after one round. Cassiani could not continue because of a dislocated right elbow.