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Wednesday, October 27, 1999
Talking Tyson, Maskaev and Diego Corrales

By Max Kellerman
Special to ESPN.com

I have heard a lot of people say that Mike Tyson should have been disqualified against Orlin Norris last Saturday night. Tyson landed an after-the-bell hook that left Norris on the canvas, ostensibly with a twisted knee and unable to continue. I disagree with those who would have Tyson disqualified.

True, Tyson landed a late blow, probably out of frustration, and the blow did appear to hurt Norris. True, at that point, the referee could have made a judgement call, and disqualified Tyson. Referee Richard Steele, however, decided to allow the fight to continue, and he took two points away from Tyson for the offense. Orlin Norris returned to his corner, where he claimed that he could not continue because he had twisted his knee on his way down. At that point, the fight was declared a no-contest, as it should have been.

Norris' inability to continue was not the result of an intentional injury resulting from the late hit. Rather, Norris' refusal to come out for the second round was because he twisted his knee, an accidental injury resulting from the late hit. Tyson had already been penalized for the intentional damage he had done. That an accidental injury then resulted after the fact, in my view, should not result in a disqualification. Meanwhile, Mike Tyson's second career (starting with his comeback from a 3½-year stint in prison) continues to be defined by his lack of discipline. The first part of his career was defined by his incredible athleticism. What a difference, and what shame.

Who's hot
Oleg Maskaev is a better heavyweight than most of the guys you already know about. I'd make Maskaev the favorite to beat guys like say, Shannon Briggs or Frans Botha. Maskaev has only two losses on his professional record. His first loss came in his second pro fight, when Oliver McCall knocked him out. This was right around the time McCall knocked out Lennox Lewis for the title. No heavyweight in their second pro fight was going to beat the version of Oliver McCall that Maskaev fought. Maskaev's only other loss came at the hands of David Tua. In the 11th round of a fight Maskaev was clearly winning, he got caught with a devastating Tua hook. The fight was then stopped prematurely.

I bring this up because Maskaev has a fight coming up with Hasim Rahman. In my view, this is a pick 'em type of fight -- it could go either way. Rahman certainly deserves a lot of credit for fighting a guy as dangerous as Maskaev. Whomever comes out on top should be considered right there with Tua and the winner of the Michael Grant-Andrew Golota bout, as one of the top four heavyweight contenders in the world. Until Ike Ibeabuchi is actually convicted of something, he belongs right there, too.

A look back
The Diego Corrales-Roberto Garcia IBF junior lightweight title fight was every bit the war we all anticipated it would be. A fight of the year candidate for sure. The most beautiful thing about the fight is that it was televised as the main undercard attraction right before Tyson-Norris. Casual fans who might have been watching the telecast to see Tyson, and who went away disappointed with the main event, must have been impressed with Corrales-Garcia. Maybe some of those casual fans will even tune in the next time they see boxing listed in the TV Guide. We've had Corrales, who knocked Garcia out to win the title, on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights three times over the last year. He always entertains.

A look ahead
Well, let's see...on Friday Night Fights we have Vinny Pazienza and Dana Rosenblatt coming up in a couple of weeks. That fight should be a lot of fun. This week we have Bryant Brannon in against James Butler. This fight is intriguing, because Brannon is a solid contender at 168 pounds. Butler is still more of a prospect than a contender, but he is a hot prospect after his second-round demolition of an over-the-hill Merqui Sosa. Sosa had been knocked out his last time out on our air earlier in the year, but that knockout loss came at the hands of perennial contender Thomas Tate, and it was in a fight-of-the-year type of war.

Maybe Sosa had nothing left when he fought Butler, but maybe Butler simply hits that hard. Should Butler beat a solid guy like Brannon, especially if he knocks Brannon out, then Butler joins Omar Sheika as one of the two most exciting super middleweight contenders in the world.

Finally, here's something in the world beyond Friday Night Fights that you can really look forward to: the Zab Judah-Terron Millett fight goes to purse bids in a few weeks, which means that Judah will get his title shot, maybe before this year is out. Judah's last two outings on Friday Night Fights both ended in devastating first-round knockouts. These knockouts came against guys who had gone the distance in close losses to other 140-pound contenders. Zab's coronation is an event you are not going to want to miss.

Max Kellerman is the co-host of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights and quite possibly the world's biggest boxing fan.