MEMPHIS: Mike Tyson and Clifford Etienne will fight here on Saturday, both boxers deciding to take the money and enter the ring after a circus-like 24 hours that saw the bout called off and reinstated twice.
Tyson and Etienne flipped the 10-round heavyweight bout on and off like children playing with a light switch here on Tuesday before the fight that both men need to spark their fading careers was finally reconfirmed.
Tyson arrived here on a chartered jet from Las Vegas after skipping flights the past two days. His camp called off the fight Monday night, citing days of illness and bizarre behaviour. But Tyson awoke well and ready to fight.
“Mike called me this morning and told me he's ready to go,” Tyson advisor Shelly Finkel said. “He told me 'I can beat Etienne,' and that's what he intends to do.”
The off-again, on-again silliness upset Etienne, who vowed not to go on. “It will take place Saturday if they get another fighter because I'm not fighting him,” Etienne told reporters here. “I'm not a puppet.”
But “The Black Rhino” could not walk away from a payday that was boosted to a career-best of almost US$1 million – especially since Finkel said his group was ready to find another foe for Tyson on Saturday.
Etienne trainer Les Bonano told reporters here on Tuesday that “everything is fine” and that “the fight is on.”
The ugly truth both men had to face before each other is that neither could afford the fight to be called off.
With Tyson reportedly millions of dollars in debt to Showtime over missed fights from prior contracts, and the weight of a second divorce hanging over his income from subsequent bouts, there was great financial pressure to fight.
Etienne could put himself in position for a title bout with a victory. – AFP