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Tyson Takes Fight Out of Seldon

Boxing: In a bout that lasts 109 seconds, Tyson wins WBA heavyweight title with knockout.

September 08, 1996|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — One hundred nine seconds into this horribly mismatched and miscast title bout, Mike Tyson knocked out Bruce Seldon with hardly any knocks.

It was more like a nudge-out, actually--an elbow, a couple of pushes and one decent punch. Mix in one woefully delicate chin, and TA DA! Tyson had taken away Seldon's World Boxing Assn. heavyweight title 109 seconds into the first round Saturday night.

Faster than you could say "swan dive," in a squishy ending that had the MGM Grand Garden arena crowd of 9,494 chanting "fix, fix, fix," Seldon flopped to the canvas twice, wavering badly enough on his legs after the scrambling up from the second knockdown to cause referee Richard Steele to end the fight.

If you could call it that.

"I did not train 12 weeks to come here and take a dive," Seldon said in the aftermath of a fight that paid him $5 million. "I'm already a millionaire. It's not about money. I'm sorry, I tried my best."

His best was not very good, however, and Seldon's trademark quick left jab never found its mark and never forced Tyson away from his attack.

Seldon (33-4), whose obvious athleticism belies a history of fragility and whose championship status belies a journeyman's skills--and is explainable only by the chaotic nature of the heavyweight division--lasted only 20 seconds longer than court jester Peter McNeeley did in Tyson's comeback fight in August 1995.

Seldon first went down 1:19 into the fight after what could only generously be called a glancing elbow and a glancing overhand right from Tyson, who made $15 million in this fight.

The second and last knockdown was 30 seconds later, when Tyson cracked a solid left hook against Seldon's jaw, sending Seldon face first to the canvas.

He was up at the count of seven, but was clearly staggered as he got to his feet in a neutral corner and did not dispute the stoppage.

Tyson lost the unified title in February 1990 in a tremendous upset to Buster Douglas, and did not regain any piece of it until knocking out Frank Bruno in March.

"Cus, two down, one to go," Tyson said, referring to his late mentor, Cus D'Amato. Tyson (45-1, with 39 knockouts) was not defending the WBC title because of an agreement caused by a judge's order that he must make his first WBC defense against Lennox Lewis.

It was the fourth knockout victory in four outings for Tyson since his return to boxing after a three-year prison sentence for a rape conviction.

Next up: a scheduled Nov. 9 WBA title defense against former champion Evander Holyfield, officially announced by promoter Don King late Saturday.

And Tyson did not hide his eagerness Saturday night to fire fists and finally consummate this longtime rivalry.

"You've got nothing coming, man," Tyson said at the postfight media conference, staring darts at Holyfield sitting 10 feet away. "I'm going to like this. I'm going to have a good time this fight."

That fight was originally scheduled to happen in 1990--but first, Tyson lost to Douglas, then, after Holyfield beat Douglas, Tyson pulled out because of an injury, then had his rape trial.

After Holyfield, Tyson is tentatively scheduled to fight International Boxing Federation champion Michael Moorer.

Because a judge has mandated that Tyson must next defend his WBC title against Lewis, the WBC apparently will strip Tyson before the November bout.

One man definitely not on Tyson's upcoming dance card: former champion Riddick Bowe, who knocked out Seldon in 108 seconds in 1991, and publicly offered to bet Tyson that he couldn't knock him out quicker. Tyson didn't take the wager, but Bowe was right, by one second.

"I'm punching pretty hard these days," Tyson said after the fight. "He was fighting and moving, so he was hard to hit at first."

Tyson hit Seldon eight seconds into the fight, and Seldon kept up a quick back pedal from then on. A few Tyson charges caused Seldon to bump into a corner, and Tyson, in the first moments, couldn't land anything hard.

But, a little more than a minute into the fight, Tyson came after Seldon, startled him with a left elbow and knocked him to the floor with a glancing high right.

Steele at first ruled it was a slip, but looked into Seldon's eyes and started a knockdown count. Seldon was up at the count of five.

Once the fight resumed, Tyson was in outright attack.

"My mode of operation, once I get a man hurt, is reckless abandon," Tyson said.

The second knockdown came when Tyson came at Seldon against the ropes, and Tyson zinged a quick left to the button. Seldon crashed face-first to the canvas and was clearly in trouble.

He got up at Steele's seven-count, but dizzily blinked his eyes and went rubbery in his legs.

And then it was over, and Seldon no longer owned the belt he won by defeating Tony Tucker in April 1995, after George Foreman vacated the title.

"Do you know how hurt I am right now?" said Seldon, who had a weird smile plastered on his face all the way from his locker room to the ring, and in the long minutes before the bout started.

"I came to fight, I came to win. I did not realize how hard he hits, or how fast he is. He is a destroyer, and I am witness to that. The shot rattled my eyes. And I couldn't see straight."

He fell straight, though. Straight down.

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