|Thursday, October 11
Updated: October 12, 11:45 PM ET
Tyson says he's fit, weighs in at 239 pounds
COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Mike Tyson is the heaviest he's ever been for a fight. He also might be in the best shape.
His upper torso cut like a bodybuilder's and his waist trim and taut, Tyson tipped the scales Thursday at 239 pounds for Saturday's 10-rounder against Denmark's Brian Nielsen.
Nielsen, known as both "Super Brian" and "Danish Pastry," checked in at 259½ -- about his normal weight -- and is the first of several bigger heavyweights Tyson must beat to get back the title belts.
Tyson's trainer, Tommy Brooks, wanted a bigger Tyson and he got what he asked for after Los Angeles-based fitness trainer Gunnar Peterson started working with the boxer four months ago.
The 35-year-old Tyson is 17 pounds heavier than in his last fight, a year ago against Andrew Golota, and 22 above his average weight in his prime. Tyson's previous high weight was 223½ pounds, for his second-round victory over Julius Francis on Jan. 29, 2000, in Manchester, England.
Tyson looks as quick as he has in years, and more powerful. He says he feels "young and vibrant" and is in his best shape for a fight since he returned to the ring six years ago after being released from prison.
"I have been telling Mike all along that he is getting older, and I didn't want him to lose all that weight," Brooks said. "Brian Nielsen is a heavy guy. I wanted him to get comfortable at that weight. I don't think he's going to lose speed. Ask the sparring partners about the speed and the power. I don't think he's lost anything."
Peterson, who has worked with NBA players, said Tyson added strength between his lower chest and upper legs, which boxers rotate to generate power.
"He's going to be a lot more powerful at this bigger weight," Peterson said. "I don't even have a scale in my gym. I told him let's train a certain way and let's see what happens; let's see where your body goes naturally. He's watched his diet, he's not eating bonbons, and he works hard."
A bare-chested Tyson (48-3, 2 no contests, 42 KOs) glared his usual stone-faced stare at the taller Nielsen.
Tyson's sparring partner, Stacy McKinley, taunted Nielsen, calling him a "watermelon" and telling him to take off his black T-shirt.
Nielsen (62-1, 43 KOs), a national hero in Denmark and a bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics, walked away, laughing, with his shirt on.
Tyson needed only 11 rounds in his last five fights, and he's expected to make just as quick work of Nielsen.
A victory would probably put Tyson against the winner of the Nov. 17 title bout between Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis. The winner of the Evander Holyfield vs. John Ruiz bout is also a possibility.
The 36-year-old Nielsen might be tougher than his large, soft body suggests.
He's never been knocked out, and he's been on the canvas only once as an amateur or professional going into Saturday's fight before a crowd expected to be about 47,000 at Parken Stadium in downtown Copenhagen.
Nielsen has fought four times since Tyson's last bout.
"I have a good chin, what more can I say?" said Nielsen, who knocked out former champions Tim Witherspoon and Tony Tubbs when they were past their prime. He also beat Larry Holmes.
"I have a good defense. People say I don't have a good defense, but I must have a good defense because I've never been knocked out," Nielsen said. "I just intend to fight with him, not run from him. I'm in good shape and I'm ready for that fight."
Brooks is sure Tyson will stop Nielsen.
"I don't look for the fight to go the distance," Brooks said. "We're prepared to go 10 rounds, but Brian has never been in with a guy who can punch as hard and as fast as Mike Tyson."