Another View: The Tyson Exception


Operators will once again have to wait and see if Mike
Tyson will fight on pay-per-view this year.

The fighter's much-anticipated showdown Sept. 19 with
the Nevada Athletic Commission to get his boxing license back ended in another
no-decision. Tyson will have to meet with a commission-appointed psychiatrist to determine
whether he is mentally fit to return to the ring after biting off part of Evander
Holyfield's ear 15 months ago.

If he passes the test, conventional wisdom is that he will
receive his license and enter the ring in a major PPV draw sometime in December.

Even if he doesn't get his license back, sources close
to the situation said Tyson will fight overseas in what will still undoubtedly be a huge
and lucrative PPV show.

But an international fight without the blessing of U.S.
sanctioning bodies will pose a dilemma for operators. The industry would endure the
hypocrite label if it distributes a nondomestic Tyson fight.

Operators have made no bones about discriminating against
Semaphore Entertainment Group's Ultimate Fighting Championship because that
ring sport is not sanctioned by the major states' athletic commissions, led by
Nevada's, despite the fact that the so-called no-holds-barred event has significantly
altered its rules to reduce the perceived violence, and that it is sanctioned by the newly
formed Mixed Martial Arts Council.

The event has built a loyal and enthusiastic audience that
is consistently purchasing its home-video releases -- the UFC's last tape
remained on the top 10 rental list for several weeks. But based on principle alone and not
performance, Viewer's Choice and the major MSOs will not distribute the UFC's
Oct. 16 event.

But principle will undoubtedly take a backseat to
floundering PPV budgets if it involves the industry's cash cow. In a year where faded
Julio Cesar Chavez is featured in the two biggest PPV-boxing events, the industry will
have no problems making an exception for Tyson, even though the fighter has brought as
much grief and bad publicity to the industry as he has money.

But it will ignore a franchise that it gave life to -- the UFC.
Instead of generating much-needed revenue from a consistent and credible event, operators
will watch their main competitors -- direct-broadcast satellite, the Internet and home
video -- collect income from a genre that should be stuffing PPV's coiffeurs.

Whether Tyson gets his license or not, operators will roll
out the red carpet for the PPV industry's fallen son. Call them hypocrites or call
them greedy, just as long as you call them rich.