MEMPHIS, Tenn. - There is still some badness left in Iron Mike after all.
In desperate need of a devastating win, Mike Tyson got just that Saturday night, flattening Clifford Etienne with a savage right hand reminiscent of Tyson in his prime.
Etienne was knocked flat on his back in the middle of the ring and he lay there as referee Bill Clancy counted him out only 49 seconds into the scheduled 10-round fight.
Tyson then leaned over and helped Etienne to his feet as the crowd at the Pyramid arena erupted in glee at the sudden ending to a fight that seemed like it would never happen.
Fighting in the same ring where Lennox Lewis gave him a beating last June, Tyson went right after Etienne, who cooperated by standing in front of him and throwing punches back.
It proved a mistake when Tyson threw a right hand that landed flush on Etienne's jaw and sent him sprawling to the canvas.
It was the 16th knockout in the first 1:33 of the first round or less for Tyson and his sixth quickest ever. He needed it badly to salvage his chances of a rematch with Lewis or a possible third fight with Evander Holyfield.
"To be honest I'm not ready to fight him (Lewis) at this time," Tyson said. "I need more fights. I don't want to get beat up again."
Etienne was picked as an opponent because he figured to give Tyson an easy target, and he didn't disappoint.
"I kept my hands up looking for the opening and I got it," Tyson said.
Tyson, more animated before the introductions than usual, had gone into the ring and stood bouncing in front of Etienne before ripping off the towel over his chest.
When the fight began, Tyson came out slugging, landing a few punches before Etienne grabbed him and pushed him into the ropes, knocking him down.
The action resumed and Tyson missed with a left hook before connecting with the punch that ended the fight.
Etienne has a tendency to go down - seven times in one fight alone - and was hand selected as an opponent because of his weak chin and his style of fighting right in front of an opponent.
"This was the way I had to fight him," Etienne said. "How else could I fight him? I'm OK. He caught me with a good punch."
With his new tattoo framing the left side of his face, Tyson showed some renewed determination in the ring.
A circus-like atmosphere enveloped the fight in the days leading up to it. Tyson, claiming to be suffering from the flu, canceled the fight on Monday only to wake up feeling better on Tuesday and deciding to fight.
Things got even better when Etienne staged a mini-boycott of his own before deciding that getting nearly $1 million to fight Tyson was too lucrative to pass up.
"I canceled too many fights in my career," Tyson said. "I wasn't afraid. He needed the money. I always need the money."
By fight time, though, the weirdness had given way to a curiosity over how much Tyson had left at the age of 36 after taking a beating from Lewis in his last fight.
Though the public hasn't lost its fascination with the youngest fighter to win the heavyweight title 17 years ago, even Tyson admitted the fight was crucial if he was to make big money again.
He got $5 million for Etienne, money he needs not only to pay bills but to pay his ex-wife, Monica, a $6.5 million divorce settlement.
"This is just what I do for a living," Tyson said. "I'm in the hurt business and no one should care if I get hurt or if I die in the ring because this is what we do."
Tyson's tattoo was prominent on his face, but Etienne never got a chance to hit it. Tyson had earlier called it a warrior tattoo and he seemed to want to go out and show he was just that.
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