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TYSON'S $10 MILLION BAILOUT : EX-CHAMP PICKS ON SOMEONE HIS OWN SIZE.

Byline: Michael Rosenthal Staff Writer

Mike Tyson. Part IV.

Iron Mike, released from behind iron bars five months ago, returns from his latest hiatus from boxing to face not-so-threatening Orlin Norris tonight at the MGM Grand Hotel.

What can we expect?

Probably a knockout. Norris, who at 5-foot-10 is about Tyson's size, was selected as the comeback opponent because he's believed to have neither the brawn nor the power to cope with the former two-time champion.

Of course, no one thought Francois Botha could hang with Tyson in his last fight, in January. However, Botha, boxing efficiently, was winning until Tyson landed one big punch that instantly ended the bout in the fifth round.

Tyson, 33, admitted he's rusty for this $10 million payday (vs. $800,000 for Norris) and that's no wonder. He hasn't fought in nine months and has been in the ring only once in almost 2-1/2 years because of his suspension for biting Evander Holyfield and the latest prison term, which almost guarantees some kinks unless he lands the KO punch early.

The fact he dropped 50-plus pounds in five months after ballooning to about 280 during 3-1/2 months in prison for assaulting two motorists after a traffic accident adds to the uncertainty.

Tyson's trainer, Tommy Brooks, said his protege is at about seven on a scale of 1 to 10 after three months of intense training.

At the same time, Tyson seems to be in a relatively good frame of mind.

He can still be irresponsibly brash. He was quoted as saying he'd bite again under certain circumstances but then said he was merely trying to sell the fight. Only he knows whether he meant it.

However, he also has spoken lovingly of his wife and children and that his primary motivation is to provide for them - as well as to pay off debts - and become a decent role model. He insists he has matured after his latest brush with the law.

Again, whether he's sincere or consciously trying to change his image, only he knows.

Brooks doesn't care. To him, the important thing is that Tyson has done everything asked of him in the gym, which hasn't been the case with other trainers in recent years.

Tyson seems to understand that things will never again come as easily as they once did.

``It's easier for me to prepare now than when I was younger,'' said Tyson (46-3, 40 KOs). ``Before, I was more of a loose cannon. I thought that I could conquer the world. When I was 20, I didn't think a guy with a gun could beat me. Now, I still feel I can conquer the world, but I know it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice.''

Norris (50-5, 27 KOs) has done his share of sacrificing.

The older brother of former junior middleweight champion Terry Norris has waited for such an opportunity since he started fighting professionally in 1986.

He's no pushover in spite of the fact he's an 8-1 underdog. He's a former cruiserweight champion and has fared well as a heavyweight contender because of his solid boxing skills. He's beaten Oliver McCall and Tony Tucker and lost to Bert Cooper and Henry Akindwande.

And while Tyson for once isn't at a disadvantage because of his height, the same can be said for Norris: It's little guy vs. little guy.

At 34, Tyson also might have the intelligence and experience to survive a while. His plan to avoid what most people believe will be that inevitable knockout punch is to punch and move, move, move. Don't stand in any one place too long, don't become careless as Botha did.

And, who knows, if he gets lucky and avoids Tyson's biggest bombs, he could shock everyone.

``I'm very confident going into this fight,'' said Norris. ``I've had some tough fights and I'm always in good shape, so the difference this time is my mental approach. I'm more focused because I realize what a fight like this will do to my career.''

Most likely, it's Tyson who will receive the career boost.

He's expected to face Shannon Briggs in his next fight, on Jan. 29 at Madison Square Garden in New York. And, not long after that, his plan is to win a world championship for the third time.

For the meantime, just showing up Saturday is an accomplishment.

Said Tyson: ``Not too many people could start over as many times as I have.''

TYSON'S TIMELINE

Nov. 1986: KO's Trevor Berbick in the second round to win WBC heavyweight title.

Mar. 1987: Outpoints James ``Bonecrusher'' Smith to win WBA title.

Aug. 1987: Outpoints Tony Tucker to win IBF belt and unify the three major heavyweight titles.

Feb. 1990: KO'd by Buster Douglas in the 10th round in one of boxing history's biggest upsets.

1991: Convicted of rape and spends three years in prison.

Aug. 1995: Defeats Peter McNeeley by first-round disqualification in his first comeback fight.

March 1996: KO's Frank Bruno in the third round to win WBC title.

Sept. 1996: KO's Bruce Seldon in the first round to win WBC title.

Nov. 1996: KO'd by Evander Holyfield in the 11th round in another major upset.

June 1997: Disqualified in the third round in rematch with Holyfield when he bites the champion's ear and loses his boxing license for a year.

Jan. 1999: KO's Francois Botha in the fifth round in second comeback fight.

Feb. 1999: Returns to prison for 3-1/2 months after he assaults two motorists after traffic accident.

Tonight: Faces Orlin Norris in his third comeback fight.

TYSON vs. NORRIS

Main event: Mike Tyson (46-3, 40 KOs) faces Orlin Norris (50-5, 27 KOs) in a 10-round heavyweight bout.

Where: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.

TV: Showtime, first bout 8 p.m. Main event is expected to start after the first game of the World Series.

Also fighting: Robert Garcia of Oxnard (32-0, 24 KOs) defends his IBF junior lightweight title against Diego Corrales (28-0, 23 KOs), and David Tua (33-1, 28 KOs) faces Shane Sutcliffe(21-8-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round heavyweight bout.

CAPTION(S):

2 boxes

BOX: (1) Tyson's timeline (see text)

(2) Tyson vs. Norris (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 23, 1999
Words:1034
Previous Article:DON'T GO DUMBING IT DOWN.
Next Article:PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST; EL DUQUE MASTERS HIS CALLING.


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