Promoter Don King and former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson were all smiles when they arrived at the recent Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame inaugural induction gala in Las Vegas. However, Tyson still harbors some bitterness toward his former promoter.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion was speaking during a national conference call on Monday in advance of “Tyson Is Back,” his promotional debut on Friday at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
During the final question of the call, Tyson was asked “Is there anything that you learned from Don King in a good way that you may be able to use as a promoter now?” Tyson answered:
“I really haven’t learned nothing from that perspective. If I was to have learned something, I can learn how to manipulate my fighters and take advantage of them and tell them lies, and tell them I love them and the white man hates them and we’re [expletive] together, we’re brothers together, and everybody is against us.
“I could tell them that, and at the end of the day, I could have all of their money in my pocket, and they can be walking on the streets and be feeling sad for themselves and attempt suicide and use cocaine and overdose just like I did. So that’s the difference.”
Once dubbed “the baddest man on the planet” and the youngest man — at age 20 — to become heavyweight champion, Tyson reportedly earned more than $300 million in purses, much of which was squandered.
A 47-year-old 2011 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee who retired with a record of 50-6 (44 knockouts), Tyson has admitted to having blown the money, which led to bankruptcy and his now owing much of it to the Internal Revenue Service.
However, he partially blames King.
“That’s why sometimes, I see Don, and I might want to hit him, because I loved Don before, and he took advantage of me, so that’s how come I feel that way,” Tyson said, “but I understand that this is the way life is, so I’m ready to go at life in a different perspective now.
“But like I said, I forgave him, and whatever I’ve done to him, I hope that he forgives me. I don’t have no hard feelings toward him, and if he wanted to work with us, I would love to. I’m not mad with nobody, I’m just saying what it is. I’m not mad with anybody.”
Reached at one of his homes in Las Vegas and informed of Tyson’s comments, King said that he last saw Tyson at the The Las Vegas-based Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame inductions earlier this month.
“I don’t care what Mike Tyson says, man. I’ve never had nothing against Mike Tyson. You’ve got to understand where that comes from. I loved the man. How am I going have anything against a man that I made that much money with? I love Mike Tyson,” said King.
“How could you give me money if you didn’t have money and then you say that I’m stealing it? I make money, I ain’t got to steal it. I just saw him last Saturday. I love him. Anything I can do to help him, I’m more than willing to help him. I ain’t thinking about going against him or castigating him publicly when I know that he’s a victim just like I am.”
Friday’s card will feature Brooklyn-based IBF junior lightweight titleholder Argenis Mendez (21-2, 11 knockouts) against Canada’s Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs), and once-beaten featherweight Jesus Cuellar against unbeaten Claudio Marrero (14-0, 11 KOs).
Also on the card, which will be televised on this week’s ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, undefeated featherweight puncher Alexei Collado takes on Hugo Partida, and welterweight Ed Paredes, who is 12-0-1 with nine knockouts in his past 13 fights, meets tough journeyman Noe Bolanos.
“Hey, listen, you know, Don King, all the money I made with Don King, Don King should have been running out of his way to help me in this particular venue, right?” said Tyson. “But no. He isn’t. Okay? He’s not. Okay? So, I don’t know. I haven’t learned anything from Don King but to hype the show up and how to get people in there, okay?”
Tyson said that he would eventually like to match Mendez and unbeaten former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Photo / Ethan Miller-Getty Images