February 23rd, 2012 By Pedro Fernandez
MIKE TYSON BECOMES MALIK ABDUL AZIZ
San Francisco, CA- It is March 1995, Mike Tyson has just been released from an Indiana prison for what this writer (with a law enforcement background) thought was a bogus rape conviction concocted by Desiree Washington in 1992. During his incarceration, Tyson had converted to Islam and his name was now Malik Abdul Aziz. Complete with skull cap and Don King by his side, Mike Tyson looked a little soft from the s*it food they feed you in the joint. Even with an abundance of cash, the selection of prison grub was limited, thus the Cup of Noodles and Hostess Cup Cake diet turned the one time “Baddest Man on The Planet” into human Silly Putty.
FIVE MONTHS LATER TYSON CONTINUED NEVER COMPLETED COMEBACK!
This would be Mike Tyson’s second comeback, with the first being after he got drilled in Tokyo, Japan by 37-1 underdog Buster Douglas. What many of you didn’t know was that the man who captivated the sports world until Douglas, was through! In August 1995, I was doing radio for Showtime PPV as Tyson’s first fight since losing to Desiree Washington was with “ham & egger” Peter McNeeley. The son of Tom McNeeley, Peter was less of a fighter than his journeyman father. Daddy McNelley’s, then 23-0, claim to fame was a 1961 World heavyweight title shot with Floyd Patterson that ended inside of four fistic stanzas.
PETER MCNEELY WAS RIGHT, BUT NOT SO BRIGHT!
Peter was 36-1, losing only to a stiff Stanley Wright (8-5) and entered the Tyson fight a 15-1 underdog. Tyson opened up on McNeeley in a mismatch of unparallelled of proportions, causing McMeeley trainer Vinnie Vecchione to save his fighter by stepping into the ring and prompted retired referee Mills Lane to disqualify McNeeley at the 1:29 mark of round one. McNeeley became a bit of a semi-celebrity doing commercials for Pizza Hut in which he was KO’d by, you guessed it, a pizza! But soon thereafter, his TV career was KO’d by a DUI.
TYSON SEEMED SEMI-EMBARRASSED FIGHTING PETER
At the post fight press conference, Tyson talked about fighting a champion in the near future, but not after just 1:29 of ring time in three and a half years. Next up the boxing media, myself included traveled to Philadelphia, PA as Tyson was matched with another son whose father was better than his offspring, Buster Mathis Jr. At the weigh in, I went nose to nose with the banned trainer Panama Lewis, the man that removed padding from the boxing gloves of Luis Resto which resulted in Resto pounding unbeaten prospect Billy Collins into retirement by ruining his vision in 1983. Lewis, banned everywhere but Pennsylvania, tried bluffing me until I shoved him out of my face. Security was not needed as Lewis, caught off guard didn’t take another step towards me.
FIGHT WAS AT THE NOW RAZED PHILLY SPECTRUM
Mathis Jr. was 20-0, still Tyson was a 10-1 favorite. It took a little less than four rounds, but Mathis Jr. was pounded like salt on December 16, 1995. Seeing I was doing a West Coast radio show which aired from 11 PM to 1 AM ET, Don King Productions and Showtime set me up with a broadcast position ringside. About 25 minutes into the show, the lights went out! Not mine, every light in the empty Spectrum. With no lighting, I ad libbed and took phone calls for the duration of the two-hour program. It would take me almost 30 minutes to break my broadcast equipment down in the dark and then another 20 turns of the clock to find my way out of the pitch-black Spectrum. I fell a couple of times and by the time I got outside, there was no taxi, shuttle, nothing, not a single soul in the parking lot and it was December and it was cold!
LONE SECURITY GUARD SAVED ME!
As I roamed around the parking lot, I encountered a Security Guard who got on his walkie talkie and called me a cab. Returning to the hotel, Don King was in the lobby holding court. Tyson, who thought I was “Flash Gordon,” a legendary writer from New York because I was the face of an entirely different publication dubbed FLASH Magazine, Mike gave me his room number and upon my return to the hotel told me I could get an exclusive interview. When I got off the elevator and headed down the hall towards Tyson’s suite, two big Black guys got up off chairs placed in front of Tyson’s door. “I’m Flash, Mike told me to come up after the fight.” One of the behemoths told me that Tyson was, “Taking care of business,” AKA laying pipe with a female.
FRANK BRUNO’S HEAD WAS NEXT ON THE BLOCK!
Having already beaten Frank Bruno (40-4) once prior, the Brit was the perfect foil/victim for Tyson. With the Tyson circus returning to Las Vegas on March 16, 1996, all I can say is that Tyson was not kind to Mr. Bruno as he dispatched the Brit in less than nine minutes of ring play. And while the general public was getting the impression that Tyson was back, I knew that was not the case, yet I kept milking the cash cow that was Tyson as the coinage emanating from Showtime was bountiful.
THE FIRST & LAST TITLE BELT TYSON WOULD EVER WEAR
Tyson’s next gig at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas would be against WBA titleholder Bruce Seldon (30-4). Once a guy with unlimited potential, so some thought, Bruce may have had a heart of gold, but it was so small it resembled that of a squirrel. On September 7, 1996, Tyson went after the WBA trinket, a waist ornament that Seldon obtained by capturing the vacant title by besting Tony Tucker (52-2) and then defending against “Indian Joe” Hipp (30-3).
SELDON SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PAID!
To say Bruce was afraid of Tyson would have been the understatement of the year. As the opening bell rang, Tyson launched himself at Seldon in a lust for blood. Bruce freaked out and fearing for his safety took a punch on the shoulder and went down. Now retired referee Richard Steele could still be counting as Seldon had no intention of continuing. In the process, Tyson garnered the WBA title belt and was now 45-1.
NEXT WEEK PART 6: FROM THE HOLYFIELD FIGHTS UNTIL THE END!
In the middle of next week, I will take you from the first Evander Holyfield fight in 1996 to his last in ring encounter with Kevin McBride some nine years later. Remember, this is RingTalk.com