Remembering the Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis boxing press conference brawl as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury square up

Massive brawl

It was the press conference to end all press conferences and the hugely anticipated heavyweight clash in 2002 very nearly didn’t happen because of the ugly scenes

It was the fight of the year and said to be the richest in history with Las Vegas set to host Lennox Lewis v Mike Tyson.

A press conference to promote the heavyweight collision was arranged where the two would come face-to-face.

But chaos followed.

Mike Tyson walked towards Lennox Lewis, who raised his hands and appeared to be expecting a fight

Mike Tyson walked towards Lennox Lewis, who raised his hands and appeared to be expecting a fight

There may have been some argy in London when Deontay Wilder shoved a smiling Tyson Fury as they promoted their 1 December fight, though it was nothing compared to the ugly scenes on show at the Hudson Theatre in New York in January 2002.

Mike Tyson snapped at a press conference in 2002 to promote his heavyweight fight against Lennox Lewis

Mike Tyson snapped at a press conference in 2002 to promote his heavyweight fight against Lennox Lewis

Promoters even had to find a new venue as a result of it all kicking off, with The Nevada State Athletic Commission deciding not to relicense Tyson. ”I’m no Mother Teresa,” Tyson said during the hearing. ”I’m not Charles Manson either,” he said at the hearing.

Tyson started it all when he walked towards Lewis aggressively

Tyson started it all when he walked towards Lewis aggressively

It all started when Lewis took his place on his small podium on stage. It was expected both men would trade insults for the cameras – standard stuff. But no. Tyson stepped off his pedestal as soon as he saw his opponent, took off his beret and walked aggressively towards him.

During the melee as Tyson and Lewis came to blows, the former bit the latter on the leg

During the melee as Tyson and Lewis came to blows, the former bit the latter on the leg

One of Lewis’s bodyguards put out his hand to keep ‘Iron Mike’ at arms length, but received a left hook for his trouble. It missed, but all hell broke loose.

Lewis then threw a right hand at Tyson and as they rolled around on the floor, Lewis had his leg bitten by Tyson – he had had his licence revoked by The Nevada State Athletic Commission in 1997 for biting part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in their Las Vegas fight.

Tyson seemed to just lose the plot. After the ugly brawl he then directed foul mouthed insults at the crowd, which included racist and sexual threats and seemed to aim them at one particular journalist who shouted ‘put him in a straightjacket’.

Tyson directed his anger towards the gathered journalists after his rumble on stage

Tyson directed his anger towards the gathered journalists after his rumble on stage

Memphis eventually hosted the hotly-anticipated bout – in June – and before the fighters entered the ring, a dozen yellow-shirted security guards formed a barrier from corner to corner to keep them apart. The fighters received instructions in the dressing room from the referee and didn’t meet in the centre of the ring to touch gloves.

Security guards form a barrier to keep Tyson and Lewis apart before the fight

Security guards form a barrier to keep Tyson and Lewis apart before the fight

“In the dressing room before the fight, I said to Lennox: ‘This is one time you have to get it right. This is the one you must win. Everything else you ever did will be worth nothing if you lose tonight,’” legendary trainer Manny Steward said. “And he just looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry, I know.’”

Eight rounds later Tyson was on his backside and bleeding after the beating Lewis dished out. His WBC, IBO and IBF belts were never in danger.

The press conference tear up, meanwhile, won the Ring Magazine Event of the Year.

Tyson couldn’t get up after Lewis knocked him to the floor for a second time in their 2002 clash. Ring Magazine awarded the knockout of the year and the press conference brawl the Event of the Year

Tyson couldn’t get up after Lewis knocked him to the floor for a second time in their 2002 clash. Ring Magazine awarded the knockout of the year and the press conference brawl the Event of the Year

Incidentally, Manny Pacquiao knocked out Jorge Eliecer Julio to win the IBF junior featherweight title on the undercard that night.

Pacquiao fought on the Lewis v Tyson undercard in 2002

Pacquiao fought on the Lewis v Tyson undercard in 2002

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Boxing – talkSPORT

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