The Return of Bitin' Mike

He's a rapist outside the ring, a discredited animal inside the ring, barred for intentionally biting another fighter, not once, but twice. But he's back and MGM Grand and Showtime are giving him more money than most of us will make in our lifetime to fight some stiff.

The live gate is way down for this event, probably because the last time he fought at this hotel, a gunfight broke out in the casino. Folks are willing to see others risk their lives, a little less likely to risk their own. The kind of folks who follow Mike around, gang-bangers and hoodlums, make his appearances the equivalent of an Oakland Raiders home game -- the action can be anywhere, wear your Kevlar vest to be safe.

Not that Mike hasn't done his best to promote this fight. He has told as many people to f*** off as he could find. The New Jersey Athletic Commission was just a warm-up, but it was nothing compared to last week. First, in order to prop up lagging pay-per-view sales, he had a satellite interview with a New York TV station. He was hostile, obscene, and after the interviewer told him the interview was over because of his language, Mike told him to "f*** off". He wasn't done with charming the American public…he visited the Today show, said he wasn't sorry he bit Evander Holyfield and used the pleasant phrase, "F*** Evander Holyfield".

I'm not going to dismiss the possibility that he is actually out of his mind. Another possibility is that he's using the WCW style of prefight banter -- he's the bad guy, so it's his job to make everyone hate him. If the latter is the case, then it's worked with me. I'd like to see Fat Francois Botha kill him.

I remember the young Mike Tyson, the one with Cus D'Amato as his mentor. He was truly Iron Mike then, he studied the great fighters of the past, was respectful of his predecessors and his sport. No flashy robes, no special music, he entered the ring dressed in simple black trunks, ready to go to work. And he could fight, bobbing and weaving, dynamite in both hands, he destroyed people. He was a great fighter, beautiful to watch in the frightening way we are drawn to such a brutal sport. That type of boxer ages quickly as a rule. They depend on the unseen punch, the lightning hook which renders the opponent senseless. As they age, the ability to avoid punishment while wading in decreases, the punch which once knocked an opponent out now merely hurts him. Like Frazier, Dempsey, and Liston before him, Mike did not age well in the ring. Don King set him up with stiffs in his comeback and it worked. Unfortunately for Mike, Evander Holyfield, bad heart and all, had the guts to fight him. Mike has the guts of every bully -- unchallenged they are awesome, stand up to them and they have no heart. He is now a shell of what he was, not much left but the name and the evil persona.

Tonight he will fight an overweight and out-of-shape mediocrity. My guess is that those extra ten pounds around Botha's gut were part of the contract for the fight. I will root for Fat Frankie, but I won't see it, since that would involve paying money to those who support Bitin' Mike. The "Sweet Science" gets more sour by the day.

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