Originally created 02/15/02

Georgia governor, House members step up criticism of Tyson



ATLANTA -- Gov. Roy Barnes intensified his criticism of Mike Tyson on Thursday, calling him a "sexual predator" and asking the Georgia Boxing Commission to rescind his license to fight in the state.

House Republicans introduced a resolution urging the commission not to allow Tyson to fight in the Georgia Dome.

Since being denied a boxing license Jan. 29 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Tyson's promoters have been looking for other sites for the title bout against heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Atlanta has emerged as a candidate, along with Los Angeles, Colorado and Texas.

Meanwhile, Miami mayor Manny Diaz said he would like to bring the fight to his city despite opposition from the governor and some members of the city's Cuban-American community.

Diaz said Wednesday that the bout would add up to $150 million to the local economy while raising the city's sporting profile. The city could hold the fight at the Miami Arena or AmericanAirlines Arena following an all-day concert at the Orange Bowl.

But Gov. Jeb Bush opposes holding the fight in Miami, likely hurting the city's chance of playing host to the much-anticipated fight.

"I don't think he thinks it would be a good thing for Florida," Bush spokeswoman Lisa Gates said.

Lewis, who has a home in Miami Beach, and Tyson have not applied for a license from the Florida Boxing Commission.

Florida boxing officials would likely concur with Nevada's decision on Tyson, said Eduardo Lacasa, the commission's vice chairman.

"It appears from his actions lately he's not likely to abide by our rules, and it doesn't appear that there's anything we can do to control this man," Lacasa said.

A Miami Beach company that's a leading contender to promote the fight has said it considers the Georgia Dome to be the "the front-runner" among the locations it has proposed. ARK Associates of Miami Beach is holding the dome for June 8 for a possible fight.

ARK president Noah Lazes said Bush's opposition would likely doom the fight from taking place in Miami.

"It appears pretty much that we're dead in the water here. The mayor is in full support ... but the upper level, the governor, is not for it," Lazes said. "We think Gov. Bush has done a great job for the state and we respect his decision."

Barnes spoke during a news conference to honor Stop Violence Against Women Day.

"This state should grant no special license or privilege to a sexual predator like Mike Tyson," Barnes said.

If Georgia awards a promoter's license for the fight, "it sends a bad message that money is more important than ethics in athletics," said Rep. Austin Scott, who wrote the House resolution.

Commission officials said the boxer has not asked for a license to promote the fight and that it's premature to say he's been approved for a bout.