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St. Louis, Louisville vie for possible July 31 bout

5/19/2004

ST. LOUIS -- With former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson
expected to climb back into the ring for the first time in more
than a year, St. Louis apparently has emerged as a top contender
for the bout.

Tyson manager Shelly Finkel told FightNews.com that the Gateway
City and Louisville, Ky., are the front-runners to host Tyson's
next fight, perhaps July 31 against journeyman Kevin McBride.

Tyson, who has a home in Las Vegas and turns 38 next month, last
week got a boxing contestant's license from Missouri's regulatory
Office of Athletics, its administrator said Wednesday. Tim
Lueckenhoff said Tyson's camp did not specify a date for any fight,
and McBride has not applied for a similar license in Missouri.

"All that I've heard about the date is what's been reported in
the media," Lueckenhoff said.

In Kentucky, officials are keeping Louisville's Freedom Hall
unbooked for July 31, pending a decision on the fight, the
president of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which runs Freedom
Hall, told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"This is a deal we've been working on for a very long time,"
Harold Workman told the newspaper.

Tyson and his advisers visited Louisville last summer to meet
with the president of Straight-Out Promotions, the Courier-Journal
said.

"I'm not familiar with any promoters in St. Louis that would be
able to do an event of his level, so I would be guessing that we
would be competing against the city itself," Workman said. "That
does not worry us in the least bit."

Messages left Wednesday at Finkel's office were not returned.

The fight would be Tyson's first since Feb. 22, 2003, when he
knocked out Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds in Memphis, Tenn. Tyson
has just three fights under his belt since 2001.

Possible St. Louis venues for a Tyson-McBride bout include the
Edward Jones Dome -- home to the NFL's St. Louis Rams -- and the
Savvis Center, where the NHL's St. Louis Blues play.

Representatives of both downtown arenas said Wednesday they have
not been approached about a possible Tyson fight.

Jeff Rainford, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff,
said that while he had not heard about a possible Tyson fight in
the Gateway City, "we love the idea of big-time events coming
here."

But landing Tyson would play second fiddle to a bout involving
St. Louis' own Cory Spinks, the undisputed welterweight champion
and son of Leon Spinks, the former heavyweight champ.

"Generally we'd be interested in a big-time fight. But I think
we're more interested in a fight involving Cory Spinks because he's
from St. Louis and we're very proud of him," Rainford said.
"We're working with folks interested in getting a Spinks fight."

Missouri boxing licenses expire on June 30 of even-numbered
years, meaning that Tyson would have to apply almost immediately
for a two-year extension for a bout scheduled after that.

Missouri's Office of Athletics -- part of the state's Department
of Economic Development -- regulates professional boxing, wrestling
and martial arts statewide.

As part of Tyson's application, sent to Lueckenhoff's office by
express mail, Tyson acknowledged his prior convictions and
boxing-related disciplinary action taken against him, Lueckenhoff
said.

"He answered those questions, we verified that he's not on
suspension by any other state and we issued the license,''
Lueckenhoff said. "Obviously, this is a very interesting
situation, but we're treating him how we'd treat everybody."

Tyson's application is not public record, Lueckenhoff said.