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Ring renegades Tyson, Golota battle tonight

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- They are calling it "Bad Boys," which sounds like a gang war between the Jets and the Sharks. Given their deplorable history of in-ring behavior, perhaps serial rules-breakers Mike Tyson and Andrew Golota should be squaring off under some grungy overpass instead of in the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Maybe someone should pass out switchblades, bicycle chains and zip guns to the combatants, instead of requiring them to rumble only with gloved fists, under the supervision of a referee.

But the prevailing theme for tonight's pay-per-view showdown is less West Side Story than boxing's version of Hoosier Hysteria. This is the "zero-tolerance" heavyweight championship, two seething Bobby Knights squaring off against the establishment and their own inner demons. The first fighter to blow his stack, chew an ear or tenderize a groin gets the lifetime achievement award for career implosion, and mandatory early retirement.

A lot of people will attend the fight or buy pay-per-view expecting the unexpected, and it could be Tyson's last fight.

At Thursday night's weigh-in, the former champion said: "This is definitely my last fight." Few people took him seriously, however.

Told of Tyson's comment, Jay Larkin, who runs boxing for Showtime, said: "A pig just flew over."

Golota weighed in at 240 pounds. Tyson was at 222.

Golota (36-4, 29 KOs) might be a match for Tyson (48-3, 42 KOs) in the number and seriousness of violations incurred, but he has a bit role in this most curious of passion plays. As always, Tyson is the star of the production, with by far the most to gain and the most to lose.

"Sometimes I overreact when I shouldn't," Tyson, who is being paid $10-million for this latest excursion into the dark side, said of his penchant for creating crises. But, he added, "They want an animal in the ring. That's why I set pay-per-view records."

During a meteoric rise in which he became, at 20, the youngest to win the heavyweight title, Tyson stamped himself as a must-see fighter more for his pulverizing power than for his indiscretions.

The one-time "Kid Dynamite" is 34 now, still a formidable force inside the ropes, but has done two stretches in prison, one for rape, one for stomping two middle-aged motorists in a fit of road rage.

"I plan to fight clean as much as possible," said Golota, 32, a native of Poland living in Chicago. Golota's paycheck will be $2.2-million.

Tyson said he no longer cares whether his opinions offend those who don't agree with him.

"It's not a popularity contest," he said. "To be honest, I like being the bad guy. I enjoy it."

Lost in the hype of tonight's Tyson-Golota bout is a Saturday afternoon card at Cobo Arena featuring world junior lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and journeyman Emanuel Burton in a non-title match.

Also on the card tonight will be an IBF junior welterweight bout between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Hector Quiroz of Mexico; a lightweight bout with Alex Trujillo of Puerto Rico and Jose Luis Juarez of Mexico; and a light heavyweight match between Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila and Kendra Lenhart of Lenoir, Texas.

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