News

Tyson Withdrawal Imperils PPV Fight

8/16/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's last-minute
withdrawal of his boxing-license application at the New Jersey Athletic Commission may put
any potential November or December pay-per-view event in jeopardy.

Tyson, who was hours away from possibly getting his boxing
license restored, will apply later this month with the Nevada Athletic Commission -- which
originally revoked his license for biting Evander Holyfield's ear during their bout
last June -- in an effort to have his fights sanctioned in the United States.

But with a decision not likely for at least one month,
operators are worried that time may run out on Tyson in what has been a very weak revenue
year for boxing and PPV.

It's unclear why Tyson pulled his application with the
NJAC, but sources close to the situation said the Tyson camp was concerned that the move
would be negatively perceived by the public and the sport. Tyson initially applied in New
Jersey last month because his handlers believed that he had a better chance of getting his
license and fighting in that state than of succeeding with the NAC.

But Tyson's camp had come under criticism from boxing
observers and some politicians for sidestepping the commission that banned him. Further,
Tyson may have hurt his chances in New Jersey by displaying some anger and cursing after
being asked repeatedly about his ear-biting incident with Holyfield.

According to published reports, the NAC will set up a
meeting to hear Tyson's request within two to three weeks, and it will render a
decision quickly thereafter. Even if Tyson gets his license back, it may be too late to
stage a major PPV event before the end of the year.

Showtime Networks Inc., which would distribute any Tyson
PPV fight, would not comment on a potential late-fall bout, saying only that it
"respects" Tyson's decision and that it looks forward to a "timely
resolution of this matter."

But some cable operators were already dreading the worst.

"I was disappointed [at] Mr. Tyson -- that piece of
junk -- [it's looks like] we're not getting an event out of him this year,"
said Leo J. Hindery Jr., president and chief operating officer of Tele-Communications Inc.

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