YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Honestly, It Could Be Worse

August 18, 1995|MIKE DOWNEY

LAS VEGAS — I pity this poor chump, Peter McNeeley, I really do. Known far and wide--by his family--as "Hurricane Peter," he gets to have his face peppered like a salad Saturday night by the ex-con ex-champ, Mike Tyson, now back after time off for bad behavior.

No more than nine minutes should be necessary for Tyson, introduced by his mouthpiece Don King as "our son, our brother, our friend, our future," to spar a little, sweat a little, swat a little and make McNeeley go beddy-bye. If the arm with the Chairman Mao tattoo doesn't get him, the arm with the Arthur Ashe tattoo will.

Hurricane Peter does have one thing going for him, at least, in that he will be face-to-fists with merely the second most-dangerous Mike Tyson who walks among us. This alone might save his life.

The third most-dangerous Tyson is the one who turned up in Tokyo for the Buster Douglas boondoggle, an Iron Mike who even while distracted and ill-conditioned still managed to bust Buster in the snoot, sending him to the canvas. Promoter King, counting faster than a Texas Instrument, thought the referee should have gotten to 10, but in any case, that's how dangerous Tyson still was at his weakest.

The second most-dangerous Mike is the one who will mix with McNeeley, the one who is in tip-top shape. Tyson in condition is an American gladiator, a supple bulldog of a guy with whom one must not mess. Hurricane Peter's primary hope to win this fight was that Tyson would emerge from the penitentiary as fluffy as the laundry. He did not.

And so, Tyson says, "I look forward to putting on a good show."

The first of many?

"I'm not Nostradamus," says the jailhouse jock. "The future isn't mine to know."

Which brings us to the most-dangerous Mike Tyson, the one we expect to have back not this weekend, but soon. This is the out-of-control Tyson, the cruel and vicious one, whose pent-up hostility needs some outlet. This is a Tyson of the future who goes searching to do something more than put on a good show.

Confined to a boxing ring, this is a very violent and intimidating Tyson indeed. Opponents for whom he worked up an anger, a cause, truly suffered his terrible wrath. When he has something to prove, professionally or otherwise, as for example when he fought Michael Spinks, no one should get in his way, not Michael and Leon combined.

The out-of-control Tyson, of course, is also the one unsafe to encounter on a New York street, or in an Indiana suite.

His only grudge against McNeeley seems to be him being the first roadblock between renewed fame and regained fortune. Although if the poet laureate of Medfield, Mass., should recite any more homespun verse, such as the kind he spouted here Wednesday that rhymed the abbreviation for Massachusetts with the part of Tyson's anatomy he intended to kick, Hurricane Peter could be cruising for a bruising.

Tyson is page-one news again.

"If I go to a club, it's in the paper. If I buy a car, it's in the paper. If I kiss my girlfriend, it's in the paper," he laments, although most of the West Coast newspapers missed that huge story: Tyson Buys Car.

So, why is Tyson back in business? Because, as a great safe-cracker once said about the safes, that's where the money is.

And why is Tyson back doing business here in Vegas, where the main lion of the MGM Grand, the hotel's president, Dan Wade, recently proclaimed as "the greatest event that the sports world has ever seen" the return engagement of a convicted rapist?

Well, he's here because to be licensed as a prizefighter in the state of Nevada, a fellow pretty much requires two things: $25 and a complete set of arms and legs. There is no law in the Nevada State Athletic Commission against felons being licensed. All a boxer must do is undergo an HIV test, take a physical exam within 30 days of his first bout and fork over the 25 clams for the license fee.

Tyson has few other expenses. He doesn't even wear socks.

And even if he did, no way Hurricane Peter could blow them off. That's why he better not make Tyson angry. The only thing that could save McNeeley is a reprieve from the governor.


Tyson's lead trainer has little experience, but the former heavyweight champion trusts him. C4

Los Angeles Times Articles