You always know when it's time for a washed-up fraud of a fighter named Mike Tyson to earn another $5 million for further humiliating himself against some no-name palooka.
Tyson starts talking crazy.
Tyson drops hints that he's so mentally unstable, there's no telling what he might do before, during or after the "fight." Who knows? He might eat his opponent's ears like they're corn on the cob. He might eat his opponent's children, right there at ringside.
Heck, he might rape an alien and eat his own alien baby, giant ears first, right there on pay-per-view.
So hurry, hurry, step right up and order now!
P.T. Barnum had nothing on Mike Tyson. Barnum, the marketing genius behind the Barnum and Bailey Circus, realized that people would pay to see bearded ladies and sword swallowers. Most people believe Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute" though, fittingly, a competitor of Barnum's actually said that about a stunt Barnum had pulled.
Since Tyson began boxing, at least 10 suckers have been born every minute not counting the ones Tyson has eaten.
But as long as those suckers believe he's a rabid fox, capable of doing things they've never seen before, he can sell ice to Eskimos. People will pay to be shocked, and Tyson has convinced lots of people that he's the ultimate one-man freak show.
Now, the boxing part of his act has become mostly irrelevant. These aren't fights, they're events. Tyson could make $5 million fighting himself.
After all, what legacy does he have to protect? Since Tyson began boxing 20 years ago, he hasn't beaten a single great heavyweight in his prime. At Tyson's pit-bull best from 1985 to '90, he couldn't have beaten any of the greatest from the Ali Era not Ali, Frazier, Foreman or Norton. Tyson beat Larry Holmes when Holmes was 38. He mauled Michael Spinks in 91 seconds because Spinks was nothing more than a decent light heavyweight.
Yet nearing 39, Tyson will fight again Saturday night in a city of Barnums and Baileys called senators and congressmen. In Washington, Tyson will shadow box with a 6-foot-6, 271-pound lug named Kevin McBride. This tomato can or Guinness keg says he has lost 25 pounds and enlisted the aid of a hypnotist.
Maybe the hypnotist can actually make McBride believe he's a real fighter.
No one can hypnotize a roomful of reporters the way Tyson can. Now, no one seems to remember that, a year ago, Tyson lost to somebody named Danny Williams. Tyson claimed he lost because he tore cartilage in his knee during the fight. Now Tyson says he broke his leg.
He's usually pulling your leg.
This man is a marketing genius. On ESPN's "Cold Pizza" Thursday, promoter Rock Newman said one true thing: "People don't understand that Mike is very intelligent."
Not Ivy League intelligent. Not how-to-be-happy intelligent. But dark-side intelligent.
Tyson is a student of human flaws. That's why he understands exactly why people can't take their eyes off him. They live through him. They want to see if he'll give in to the impulses that many of his rubber-necking fans can barely control.