Originally created 01/24/02

Tyson apologizes - sort of



NEW YORK -- Saying he's not "Mr. Politically Correct," Mike Tyson made an apology of sorts Wednesday for his part in a news conference melee that could deny him a license to challenge Lennox Lewis.

"I'm a boxer, and from now on, I will let my boxing talk for me," Tyson said in a statement.

He did not comment on whether he bit Lewis' left leg in the brawl at the Hudson Theater on Tuesday. A source close to Lewis' camp, who asked not to be identified, said Tyson did bite the WBC-IBF champion.

Lewis and his advisers declined to talk about it.

"It (the melee) is under investigation by the Nevada commission," said Gary Shaw, chief operating officer of Main Events, the American promoter of the champion from Britain.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is scheduled to consider Tyson's application for a license on Jan. 29. It was the Nevada commission that fined Tyson $3 million and revoked his license after he bit Evander Holyfield's ears in 1997.

Tyson got a license a year later, but it lapsed in 1999.

"There was obviously a miscommunication between our camps with regards to the face-off, and chaos broke out," Tyson said, explaining how the brawl began.

Apparently, each man was to come on stage upon being introduced and stop on a small platform, which were not close to one another. They were to turn and stare at one another.

Tyson was introduced first. After Lewis got up on his platform, Tyson walked toward him, claiming he was going to engage in a stare down.

When he got close, he was pushed by Lewis' bodyguard and threw a punch at the man. Lewis threw a right hand that grazed Tyson's head and suddenly people were pushing, shoving and rolling around onstage.

"After our skirmish, I was provoked by a member of the audience who was shouting obscenities at me and I defended myself as I saw fit. In the process, things that I said may have offended members of the audience. To these people, I offer my apologies."

After a semblance of order was restored, Tyson threw up his arms in triumph and made an obscene gesture. Then he became enraged and shouted vulgar abuse at a man who had yelled, "Put him in straitjacket."

"I came to New York to promote a fight that I want and boxing fans want to see," Tyson concluded in his statement. "I am not a role model or Mr. Politically Correct. I am a boxer, and from now on I will let my boxing talk for me."

During the fracas, Tyson was cut on his hairline, while WBC president Jose Sulaiman sustained a concussion when he hit his head on a table.

Sulaiman was treated at a hospital and attended a news conference Wednesday for Shane Mosley's WBC welterweight title defense against Vernon Forrest Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The melee was the latest problem to beset Tyson. On Tuesday, Las Vegas police said they found evidence supporting a woman's claim she was raped by Tyson. Police have forwarded the case to the district attorney's office to see if it will be prosecuted.

Last week, Tyson's second wife filed for divorce in Rockville, Md., accusing the former heavyweight boxing champion of adultery. Tyson countered by suing for divorce in Las Vegas, claiming incompatibility.

On Jan. 1, witnesses said Tyson threw glass Christmas ornaments at journalists trying to interview him at a hotel in Havana, Cuba. There were no reports of injuries, arrests or serious damage.