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No Prolonging the Obvious

Boxing: Instead of 30 days, Tyson is set to learn his punishment next Wednesday after waiving delay.

July 02, 1997|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — How big a chunk will he lose?

With predictions and speculations coursing through this gambling town Tuesday, Mike Tyson began his hurried journey toward discovering when and if he will fight again in Nevada or the rest of the United States.

Because Tyson has agreed to waive his right to delay proceedings for 30 days, after an emergency hearing Tuesday to begin the penalty process, the Nevada State Athletic Commission tentatively planned a formal disciplinary hearing against Tyson for next Wednesday.

In the hearing, Tyson, who did not attend the Tuesday meeting but is expected at the disciplinary proceedings, will find out how much of his boxing career he will lose because of his actions during his fight Saturday against Evander Holyfield.

"Our intentions are to submit to the commission, to put Mike's future in their hands and to trust in that," said Eckley "Marty" Keach, Tyson's local attorney.

Sources close to the five commissioners--all of whom attended the bout--suggest that there is no solid consensus on the penalty.

Any ruling needs a majority of votes to pass.

The commission is made up of chairman Elias Ghanem, a physician; Jim Nave, a veterinarian and Lorenzo Fertitta, a businessman, all from Las Vegas; and Luther Mack and Nat Carasali, both Reno businessmen.

Ghanem, who praised Tyson for apologizing for the incident Monday and saying he would seek psychological help, apparently favors a more lenient one-year suspension.

But Ghanem also said he wouldn't be affected by the apology. "I wouldn't look at it as mitigating anything, really," he said.

Apparent hard-liners Nave and Fertitta might be leaning toward two or three years. Mack and Carasali are more unpredictable.

But most observers believe that before the hearing convenes, most of the commission's votes will have been decided and deals will have been struck to ensure a 4-1 or 5-0 outcome on the first vote, whatever the penalty.

Some boxing figures argue that the commission must act to preserve what remains of the integrity of the sport by coming down hard on Tyson.

In comparison, Oliver McCall on Tuesday was fined $250,000 and suspended for one year for his bizarre refusal to defend himself against Lennox Lewis during their World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight last February.

And the commissioners seem to agree that what Tyson did, in the biggest-money fight in boxing history, is far more punishable than McCall's mental breakdown in the ring.

All sides apparently agree that Tyson should be fined the maximum--about $3 million, or 10% of his purse for the Holyfield bout.

Holyfield, speaking to reporters in Atlanta, said he accepted Tyson's apology (Tyson tried to call him Monday but apparently could not get through). But Holyfield insisted Tyson must be punished significantly.

"Whatever punishment they give him, it should make a statement," Holyfield said, "otherwise other people will go around and do the same things."

Keach, who later implied that the commissioners might have already been swayed by the torrent of public opinion against his client, said he would implore them not to ban Tyson for a long time.

"We're going to obviously ask them to exercise some reason and some judgment," Keach said. "People understand that Mike made a mistake.

"He was in unarmed combat, and that's the term used for boxing, 'unarmed combat.' So that's exactly what was occurring, and something happened in the ring, and he accepts the fact that it was inappropriate. He accepts the fact that a severe punishment's going to be imposed.

"But he's also desirous of fighting again. That's what he does for a living. That's what his whole life is based on, and the only position that is completely untenable to him is if he never has an opportunity to fight again."

Because of a recently passed federal law, all other state boxing commissions must adhere to any state's suspension of a fighter.

Joe Ralston, one of the commission's legal advisors and a deputy state attorney general, said the formal disciplinary hearing will include witnesses and the showing of evidence.

"It will be a complaint as you might find if someone trampled your flowers and you decide to sue your neighbor," Ralston said. "It would just allege that here's what we think happened, here's what the violations are and here's what we're asking for."

In Tuesday's proceedings, the commission began by viewing a videotape of the entire fight, including Tyson biting both of Holyfield's ears in the third round.

During the showing, the one member of Team Tyson in attendance, trainer Richie Giachetti, answered back at the television commentary and muttered repeatedly about Holyfield's tendency to crash into Tyson with his head--which Tyson said Monday caused him to "just snap" in retaliation.

Giachetti, who sat with several associates of Don King (who was not in attendance), raced past reporters without comment when the hearing was over.

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