For Team Tyson, Holyfield Fight Is PersonalHAL BOCK , Associated Press
Oct. 3, 1996 4:45 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ For a while, Thursday's Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield news conference bore all the trappings of a typical Don King production, with the promoter invoking the names of Boris Yeltsin, Gen. George Patton and George Raft, among others.
Then, it got serious.
Tyson's co-managers, John Horne and Rory Holloway, said the Holyfield fight, set for Nov. 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is a personal matter for them and for the WBA champion.
Horne and Holloway claimed that when Tyson was being tried for rape in 1992, Holyfield, then the undisputed heavyweight champion, said he could not fight a rapist.
``A lot was said about Tyson during his time of trial and tribulation, particularly by Holyfield,'' Holloway said. ``You just don't do that. He's got to pay the price. Mike is going to inflict pain. It's going to be a little messy.''
Horne was even angrier.
``I heard a guy say things I never dreamed,'' he said. ``He said he would never fight a rapist. You don't do that to your peers at a time when they're down. It became emotional instead of just a fight.''
Tyson served three years for rape in an Indiana correctional facility and returned to the ring last August. By then, Holyfield had lost the title to Riddick Bowe, regained it from Bowe and then lost it again to Michael Moorer.
``While Mike was away, nobody benefited more than Holyfield,'' Horne said. ``Mike Tyson never raped anybody. The only rape is going to take place Nov. 9.''
Holyfield denied the claims of Horne and Holloway.
``I didn't say that,'' he said of the rapist remark. ``They can say anything they say. It really doesn't make a difference. We still have to fight.''
Horne shot back at him. ``I know what I heard! I know what I read!'' he shouted. ``I've been carrying this for five years.''
While all this was going on, Tyson sat impassively, wearing a taxicab driver's hat turned backward. When it was his turn to speak, he said simply, ``I ain't going up there.''
King was savoring the scene. ``We've got a fiery situation here,'' he bellowed.
For his part, Tyson remained relatively calm. ``I have no emotion about this fight,'' he said. ``This is a business.''
And a lucrative one. Tyson is expected to get more than $25 million and Holyfield better than $12 million.
``He knows what he's got coming,'' Tyson said of Holyfield. ``He knows what he said. If he's not man enough to say so, that's on him. We got to fight anyway.''
Then Tyson turned to the audience.
``I've been dehumanized too long,'' he said. ``You think it matters to me what he says or what you say?''
Now it was back to Holyfield. ``You're out of your league, man.''
Holyfield seemed unshaken by the affair. ``I respect him as a fighter,'' he said. ``When a man meets a man, he knows what he's going to get.
``When a man wakes up; when a man trains, he still realizes what's in front of him. There's no way I can take from what Mike Tyson has done and Mike Tyson can't take from what I've done.
``When he looks in my eyes, he knows what he's got coming.''
The card includes two other heavyweight championships, with Moorer facing Francois Botha for the IBF title and Henry Akinwande going against Russian Alexander Zolkin _ that's where the Yeltsin reference came in _ for the WBO crown.
It marks the first time three heavyweight championships have been contested on the same card. Also scheduled is Ricardo Lopez's 17th defense of the WBC strawweight championship he has held since 1990.
King, assailed by boxing fans for his previous Tyson mismatches, is hoping for a record 2.5 homes for the pay-per-view program.
``This is a $50 million card, the most expensive in boxing history,'' he said. ``And we guarantee customer satisfaction.''