Mike Tyson makes an up-and-down debut in first news conference as a boxing promoter

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

(Warning: The above video may not be safe for work because of coarse language.)

Mike Tyson isn't going to be your typical boxing promoter. He proved that Wednesday at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., during his first news conference as a promoter.

The former heavyweight champion seemed uncomfortable and out-of-place at times, but he was funny and charismatic and typical Tyson at others. Seconds into the news conference, Tyson dropped an F-bomb as he was speaking from the dais, and it was clearly obvious that Iron Mike Productions would be different from most.

As a reporter was asking him if he felt nostalgic about promoting in upstate New York, where his fight career began, Tyson told him to "chill out," drawing chuckles from the crowd.

Though many view Tyson as intimidating, he conceded he was nervous running a news conference. Iron Mike Productions' first fight card will feature an IBF junior lightweight title bout between champion Argenis Mendez and Arash Usmanee on Friday on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" series.

All I have to say is I'm very grateful to be here, and that what I'm trying to convey is gratitude. This is just a wonderful thing. I'm a little nervous here, but I'm so excited about being involved with this whole establishment.

The fighters were low key and respectful toward each other, which forced Tyson to do more work than he'd have preferred. During his heyday as one of the most feared boxers in the world, Tyson was outstanding at news conferences and often intimidated his opponents.

He urged Mendez and Usmanee to trash talk each other to help move tickets.

I don't know, but I need some of these fighters to come up here and say they're going to kill him. I want you to talk about his mother. Come on, man! We got to move tickets. Come on, man. This guy is a bomber and he's a gentleman. I'm sorry. I'm just trying to build the fight up. Just trying to build the fight.

Tyson got chuckles when he referred to Mendez's manager as "a crappy-ass manager." He was talking about how he wouldn't steal from his fighters, as he alleged in the past that his promoter, Don King, stole from him. He said he'd hand the checks directly to the fighters and not their managers, though it's important to note that paying the fighters is usually one of the jobs of the state athletic commission, not the promoter.

But Tyson went off on a colorful stream-of-consciousness soliloquy advising the fighters to keep their paychecks and not turn it over to their managers.

When you say 'my fighters,' I don't own anybody. Those days are over. These are guys that are associated with the company. They're their own individuals and all I can say is, I can't stop nobody from abusing themselves, just like they couldn't stop me from abusing myself.

But what I can do is give this champion his check personally and his manager won't get it. I'll give him his check personally and he can give it to, I don't know the manager, but he can give it to his crappy-ass manager, but before that, his crappy-ass manager won't get the check from me. He'll get the check from him. Right, champ? Don't give him the [expletive] check, champ. Don't give him the check. Don't give him the check. Don't give him the check. Just pay him, but don't give him the check. Pay him. Pay him his fee, or whatever he deserves, and keep the money. Don't give him the whole check.

Tyson took a step back and uttered a major curse, which caused the audience to laugh. Tyson, though, realized it's probably not smart to be cursing from the dais, so he apologized to his partner, Garry Jonas, the CEO of Iron Mike Productions.

I didn't really mean that, Garry. Oh God. Don't fail. Don't fail the promotion before it starts.

He later railed against bad decisions in boxing, though he suggested that mixed martial arts was "overshadowing boxing," because it didn't have such a problem. His close friend, UFC president Dana White, would probably tell him bad decisions aren't exclusive to boxing.

He suggested fans should vote for who they want to see fight. He referred to Usmanee as "Obama" and said the Mendez-Usmanee winner should fight "Goombowa." He was referring to interim WBA lightweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.

A questioner complimented him for giving back and helping the sport, but Tyson said though it was nice to hear, it wasn't true.

He said boxing needed to bring integrity to the game. He seemed to take a shot at King and Top Rank's Bob Arum, who admitted bribing an IBF official to get a better ranking for a fighter.

Hey, listen. I like the sound of that stuff, that I'm helping the sport, I'm giving back to the sport, but that's not true. Only way I can give back is the officials have to give back, as well. We have to be honest with ourselves and honest with our fans and not take bribes and not steal decisions. These are guys fighting for their lives, and it should be on even terms.

That's what it is. These boxers aren't getting even terms. When you see a boxing match, you know who's going to win before the fight even starts normally, right? That's not going to be this way. We'll have the best fighters fight the best fighters and whatever happens then. They'll continue to rate higher, gain weight. Two-time champion, three-time champion, different divisions. It's all about escalation.

It was vastly different from the news conferences run by the likes of King, Arum and Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The question that has to be answered is whether Tyson is going to be willing to commit the time and patience to develop his company. And when there is a celebrity promoter, like Tyson, he often overshadows the fighters. That's something Tyson has to deal with, because while the celebrity promoter can generate attention for himself, Wednesday's press conference proved a point: Not one question was directed toward Tyson about the fighters. All were about him or the sport in general.

It's going to be a long climb for Tyson, but hopefully, he can succeed.

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