NEW YORK — What exactly is wrong with Mike Tyson, and what is the real reason his Nov. 18 fight against Razor Ruddock was postponed?
Depends on who you listen to. Since the announcement a week ago that the fight was off, we have been told: Tyson has pneumonia; Tyson has pleurisy; Tyson has costochondritis, a rib-cage inflammation; Tyson is in Las Vegas, recuperating; Tyson is in New York, partying; Tyson makes daily visits to Lenox Hill Hospital for treatment; Tyson might not fight again for a year; Tyson will fight Ruddock the day after Christmas.
So what's the truth?
Don't ask Don King's office, the "official" outlet for Tyson information. Trying to get solid information out of there is like depending on Tass for inside information on the goings-on at the Kremlin. And the folks at Tass are probably politer.
According to Al Braverman, who insists he is not a spokesman for King although he is the person whose job it is, apparently, to tell reporters that King is unavailable, Tyson has "what you call a pleurisy thing. He can't train, can't even throw a punch."
That seems to square with the original report out of Canada, when promoter Garry Stevenson reported Tyson had a "pneumonia-like illness" that would preclude him from training for four to six weeks. That diagnosis was made by Dr. Elias Ghanem, Tyson's personal physician, who flew to Edmonton from Las Vegas at King's behest.
But according to Dr. Gerhard Sollbach, the physician called in by the Edmonton Athletic Commission, Tyson was suffering from, basically, "a pain in the chest, nothing serious."
Dr. Sollbach also said he offered Tyson and Ghanem the facilities of his hospital in Edmonton for X-rays and other tests, but "they had already decided to return to Las Vegas."
Upon their return, Ghanem announced that X-rays revealed Tyson's lungs to be clear, and said the fighter was afflicted with costochondritis. This, according to another doctor acquainted with Tyson, is not an illness but an injury, "like a torn muscle. It's something you do in the course of working out. Very minor."
And now, over the last two days, one person still associated with Tyson says the fighter is in New York and has made several visits to Lenox Hill Hospital for treatment. Another person formerly associated with Tyson says the fighter was spotted dancing at the China Club, a nightspot on Broadway at 74th Street, until the wee hours earlier this week and never looked healthier.
Of such things are rumors born. To wit: Tyson and King wanted out of the Ruddock fight, because: a) Tyson was out of shape and needed more time; b) Tyson and King did not want to pay the 15-percent tax the Canadian government was to scoop from his purse; c) Tyson and King want out of a tentative Feb. 12 date in Japan against Buster Douglas, and decided the best way to do it was to move the Ruddock fight to late January, making a February fight impossible.
So, in search of some definitive Tyson information, I called the usual suspects. King, of course, was unavailable. Braverman said so. He also said he could give no information on what was really wrong with Tyson, how long he would be inactive, or when he might fight again.
Tried Seth Abraham of HBO, which is bankrolling the Tyson-King circus. Out of the country. Bill Cayton, not surprisingly, knew nothing because his involvement these days consists mainly of checking his mailbox for the 20-percent share of Tyson's purses that he will collect until their contract runs out in 27 months.
And all Murad Muhammad, Ruddock's promoter, knows is that King has assured him his fighter will be Tyson's next opponent and that the promoter "is looking at" a Jan. 20 date in Edmonton, although Braverman insisted the date was out because "the Oilers are home that day." A quick check of the NHL media guide reveals that on Jan. 20, the entire NHL is off for the All-Star break.
So what is really going on here? Nobody, apparently, really knows. Don King himself put it best when asked who was in charge of making Tyson available to the media before his July bout against Carl "The Chin" Williams.
Said the Great Promoter: "Ain't nobody in charge."
Ain't it the truth?
From the ridiculous to the sublime. Wednesday at City Hall the city got a chance to see four of the all-time greats onstage together, and, thankfully, not a politician was in sight. Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton were in town to hype a new videotape, "Champions Forever," which is 87 minutes of great fight footage and interviews and sells for $19.95.
For about 10 minutes, it was four guys talking fights, and it was priceless.
Frazier, sitting next to arch-rival Ali, started things off. "I love to get close to this guy," he said. "When I get close to him, I got him in my reach. I could deal with him at this range."
Holmes, who celebrates his 40th birthday Friday with a party in Easton, Pa., said, "We're all going to make comebacks. I'm going to fight every one of them."