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Friday, February 15
 
Texas says no; Tyson says no to Georgia

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mike Tyson's application to box in Texas was denied Friday, the latest setback in the former heavyweight champion's attempt to get a sanctioned bout against Lennox Lewis.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Executive Director Bill Kuntz said his decision was based on Tyson's history in the ring and disciplinary action by other states. He noted Tyson's past license suspensions in Nevada and Michigan.

"I made my decision to deny Mr. Tyson a license based on his past behavior in the ring, his unwillingness to follow the basic rules and laws of boxing, and our mandate to regulate boxing in the public interest," Kuntz said. "In the boxing ring, Mike Tyson is a repeat offender. I have no confidence that his future behavior would differ from his past behavior."

Tyson has refused prefight drug tests, ignored referees and assaulted ringside law enforcement officials during the last five years, Kuntz said.

Hector Uribe, Tyson's attorney in Austin, requested an appeal hearing. "This is the first round of a multiround fight," Uribe said.

Georgia officials, meanwhile, have granted Tyson's application to fight there. However, the state also requires a promoter's license and a show permit, neither of which has been granted.

And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday that Tyson adviser Shelly Finkel said he is no longer interested in efforts to stage the fight at the Georgia Dome.

Gov. Roy Barnes said Thursday that he had asked the Georgia Boxing Commission to rescind the license for Tyson, whom Barnes called a "sexual predator."

"It became very clear how the governor feels, and if there is this type of hostility, then we're not going to go there," Finkel said. "I do believe it is a loss to your city."

The Texas decision didn't stop the fighters from throwing some verbal punches.

Lewis' U.S. promoter, Main Events, released a statement from the champion in which Lewis said he looks forward to fighting in June but that Tyson "must get some psychiatric help before we go forward."

"I am informed that Mike Tyson has secured a boxing license ... I look forward to meeting him in June," Lewis said.

"I very much want to give Mike Tyson the whipping he deserves, but above all I want the fight to be a true sporting event, where the sweet science of boxing is on display."

Tyson responded with equal bombast.

"I hope Lennox is training as hard as he is talking," Tyson said in a statement read by spokesman Scott Miranda. "Obviously no, since every day it is something new out of his pretty mouth.

"The facts are very simple, Lennox and I will fight and I will win in spectacular fashion."

Finkel said nothing has been set for June and that he is still considering several options on where to stage a fight. Those include several states and a new offer from interested parties in the Netherlands. He would not discuss specifics.

"I was a bit disappointed," in the Texas ruling, Finkel said. "We're looking at our legal options there."

In processing Tyson's Texas license, officials had asked for details concerning the fighter's licensing problems in Nevada.

In 1997, Tyson was stripped of a license to fight there after the "Bite Fight" in which he bit Evander Holyfield's ear.

On Jan. 29, Nevada officials denied his fight application renewal after a melee with Lewis at a news conference. His Michigan license was suspended last year.

The Texas licensing agency said it "may recognize and enforce disciplinary sanctions imposed by other combative sports authorities."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry this week urged state officials not to grant Tyson's license.

"I can't help but think that political pressure has had a part in the decision," Uribe said.

The Houston Astrodome, the Alamodome in San Antonio and the new American Airlines Center in Dallas all were considered likely options to host a Tyson-Lewis fight.




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