Boxing: Turning Stone Resort and Casino

Is Mike Tyson making a comeback?

August, 21, 2013
The promotion has been dubbed "Tyson Is Back!" Does that mean that Mike Tyson, the former Baddest Man on the Planet, out of the ring since a 2005 loss to Kevin McBride, is lacing up the gloves, giving it one more go, at age 47?

No dice, diehards.

You will not see Iron Mike chasing past glories in the boxing ring, not judging by his words at a Wednesday press conference at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY.

Tyson talked at the presser as lead promoter of a Friday card at Turning Stone, topped by a Argenis Mendez IBF super featherweight title defense against Arash Usmanee, a scrap that will run on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

"I never want to be back in the ring," said Tyson, who was jovial and acted pleased to be alive, a contrast to many of his pre-fight appearances when he campaigned as a pro, from 1985 til the McBride loss. "I understand what these guys are going through. We want to be known for being worthy but most fighters are shy. I'm going to watch them, as a fan, and be so happy I'm not in there."

A Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight, with proper buildup, would probably do 100,000 buys on pay-per-view, such is the fascination with known entities, even ones chugging toward 50, and over the line, as Holyfield is. But Tyson is one of the rare ones, who has found compelling and lucrative enough vocational opportunities outside the ring to keep him occupied, and not susceptible to the lure of the ill-advised ring return.

The season finale of ESPN's Friday Night Fights is presented by Corona Extra. Friday's show will air live at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, WatchESPN and broadband Spanish-language ESPN Deportes+. ESPN Deportes will televise Friday's fights on Saturday, August 24, at 7 p.m. ESPN3 will exclusively carry two additional bouts at 7 p.m. before Friday's 9 p.m. telecast. Friday's fights on ESPN3: a 10-round welterweight bout between Ed Paredes (33-3-1, 22 KOs) and Noe Bolanos (25-7-1, 16 KOs) and a 10-round junior lightweight bout between Alexei Collado (16-0, 15 KOs) and Hugo Partida (18-4-2, 14 KOs).

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Promoter Tyson back from the brink

August, 19, 2013
Mike Tyson's re-branding is the sort of turnaround that just about never happens.

Back in 2008 and 2009, he was depressed, he said, to the point of contemplating suicide, and using drugs in a completely reckless manner. "I was overdosing every night, I couldn't believe I was waking up," Tyson said on a Monday conference call to hype his Aug. 23 debut as a boxing promoter.

But meeting current wife Kiki, and the tragic death of a four-year-old daughter in a treadmill accident in 2009, forced him to snap out of it.

Tyson, now 47, couldn't handle the pressure and fame and mercurial fortunes that were dumped into his lap when at age 20 he won the heavyweight championship, the youngest man to do so. By 2008 or so, he said, he was a "full-blown addict," and couldn't fathom a comeback when then-friend Kiki suggested he do a one-man show on stage and try to get into film work. "Look at the state I'm in," he remembers thinking when Kiki visited and spoke hopefully. "My daughter died, and I wanted to live my life differently," he said.

Look at the state, indeed. Spike Lee is producing his one-man play, which gets rave reviews, and he will kick off another leg of the tour in November. On Nov. 12, his memoir, "Undisputed Truth," gets released. On Friday, he will promote, as part of Iron Mike Productions, a show that will be featured on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights." A title fight between Argenis Mendez, the IBF 130-pound champion, and Arash Usmanee, will top the card at Turning Stone, in Verona, N.Y.

Tyson was asked what he learned from the promoters he worked with, most notably Don King. He said he learned that it isn't proper to put your hands on a business associate when you disagree on terms of a deal or the delivery of promised revenue. "I put my hands on 'em, you should never ever do that," he said. "I was an immature, spoiled kid, I'd never do that again, striking people."

He said he forgives business partners who crossed him, and hopes they forgive him for trying to throttle them. His old edge did peek out a bit when he admitted he's irked that King hasn't been forthcoming with advice or help in this promotional endeavor, though Tyson did say he'd be open to working with his old handler, who turns 82 on Aug. 20 and promotes infrequently. "You will never hear 'Mike Tyson stole from me,' " Tyson said.
It's anyone's best guess how much Miguel Cotto has left in the tank. Is he nearing E? On E? Or operating on fumes, and set to sputter out?

Cotto, age 32, lost his last outing, against Austin Trout last December (UD12) and his outing before that, against Floyd Mayweather (UD12) in May 2012. No shame in that, frankly; Mayweather you know as the top performer of his era and Trout is in pound-for-pound Top 20 territory. But really, the next one could be the last one for the 37-4 Cotto, a future Hall of Famer who turns 33 in October.

Showing some of the clear-mindedness that served him so well in the ring, the hitter has set the table for himself for the next phase of his life. He has ample holdings in businesses and real estate in Puerto Rico, and has for the last couple years been putting together a promotional company, Miguel Cotto Promotions, which seeks to collect the next generation of Puerto Rican pugilistic standouts.

One of Cotto's charges, junior middleweight Jorge Melendez, looks to take another step up the ladder to prominence when he headlines at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., on June 7. Showtime will televise his scrap, against Lanardo Tyner (30-8-2 with 19 KOs; turns 38 in August; winner of five straight after a four fight losing streak).

I checked in with Cotto, asking about Melendez, the card, how he is digging being a promoter, and also his fighting future.

So, is Melendez the stud in the Cotto stable, I asked.

"He's one of the best," Cotto told me. "We know he's tough, and we trust that he'll show everybody strong he is on June 7. He is a hard puncher, but also smart."

Melendez does have a showy KO percentage, boasting a 26-2-1 record, with 25 KOs. He has lost to a pair of skilled journeymen, Clarence Taylor and Doel Carrasquillo, but has reeled off 13 straight KOs since his latest loss, to Carrasquillo, two years ago.

Cotto said he's liking the promotional side. The hitter spent most of his career under the Top Rank umbrella, so he was able to soak up tips from the best in the business, Bob Arum. Cotto Promotions aims to run between ten and 14 shows a year, in various locales, he said. "This is our first opportunity in New York, so it will be our best effort to show our best," he said.

He noted that Cotto prospects Jeffrey Fontanez (11-0 super feather; age 20) and Jonathan Vidal (17-0 bantamweight) are also on the Turning Point card and are promising boxers.

Check back for more from Cotto, as NYFightblog looks to find out when he will next fight, and against whom.

Dzinziruk-Vera headlines Turning Stone

January, 22, 2013

Boxing returns to Verona, N.Y., on Friday when middleweight contender Sergiy Dzinziruk, seeking to nail down a title shot by the end of the year, gloves up in the main event against rawhide-tough spoiler Brian Vera.

ESPN2 and WatchESPN will televise the main event (9 p.m. ET) and some undercard action on "Friday Night Fights."

The event will unfold at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, and the mainer stands out as a rock-solid pairing for FNF.

Dzinziruk (37-1-1, 24 KOs), a 36-year-old Ukrainian who lives in Germany and is promoted by Gary Shaw, beat Daniel Santos in 2005 to win a 154-pound crown, and held the title until 2010. He drew with Jonathan Gonzalez in his most recent bout, in September, so I expect him to be sharper and better motivated on this occasion.

"I felt like my last time out, I didn't capitalize on every opportunity that was presented to me. It was my fight to grab and it slipped away because I let it," he said. "I've prepared to get back into the win column, and anything less is unacceptable. I will define the moment and not let the moment define me."

The 31-year-old Vera (21-6, 12 KOs), who fights out of Austin, Texas, is coming off of a victory over perennial contender Sergio Mora last August.

"I respect every opponent, but Vera is a different monster," Dzinziruk said. "The guy never quits and he is always willing to take the fight to the most uncomfortable places possible. I'm willing to go wherever is necessary, but it won't be Vera calling the shots because I'm going to dictate the pace and control the fight. With my conditioning, I will systematically break my opponent down and reestablish my position amongst the division's elite."