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Monday, June 13, 2005
Updated: June 21, 10:55 PM ET
Tyson always delivers

By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

Today's philosophical query at The Cooler: If one spends $44.95 of hard-earned American currency on a product, and then the peddler of that product admits he has bamboozled you, is your money still well-spent?

Mike Tyson
Hey, what's Murph doing in the ring telling Tyson to fight again?

In every other case in the history of the free market: No.

In the singular case of Iron Mike Tyson: Yes.

That's the magic of Mike. I paid, I watched one of the less-attractive fights I've ever seen, I heard Tyson say afterward: "I did this to take care of my bills" … and after all that, I still thought: Damn, that was pretty entertaining.

How that exactly happened, I'm not so sure. Tyson offered no artistry, no hunger, no athleticism. He offered shopworn goods on bum legs and the lungs of a beer-swilling softball player. Perhaps worst of all, he showed cowardice when things were darkest. As the fight slipped away, he at first tried to break Kevin McBride's arm, and then head-butted McBride so fiercely it opened a cut over the big galoot's eye.

And when it was over, Tyson told all of us – all of us who were $44.95 lighter – that his heart wasn't into it, and hadn't been since 1990. He told us he's "not an animal" anymore, and then offered a half-hearted olive branch to the public, saying, "I wish people could get their money back."

If it weren't so insulting, it would have been hilarious. On second thought, the fact that it was so insulting made it hilarious.

I can see the conversation now between the pay-per-view lawyers and Tyson's lawyer this morning: "We'd like for Mike to make good on his promise and refund the $5 million."

Mike Tyson
Even if he's a shell of Iron Mike, Tyson's fights still provide plenty of entertainment.

"No problem. We'll direct-deposit the check to Showtime pronto. Mike and I would like to apologize for any inconvenience."

By the end of the night, I had only one relevant question: How soon can Iron Mike un-retire and get in the ring again, and whom do I call to leave my credit-card number and expiration date?

On, then to the Weekend List of Five:

1. Ole, Ole, Ole!
Has an intimidating man ever been introduced in the following manner: "And in the tartan trunks …"

Only Fightin' Kevin McBride, the pride of County Monaghan, Ireland.

He is the hugest of men, at 6-foot-6, 271 pounds, and when he and Iron Mike squared off in the ring, it looked like something out of Gulliver's Travels. I could only wonder, having spent some time in Ireland: What if Kevin McBride were not a professional boxer? There are very, very few men of McBride's size on the Emerald Isle. He'd be a holy terror if he were just a local down at the pub, hanging out on Friday and Saturday nights. He'd be the highest-priced bouncer in the land. People would pay to have their photograph with "Giant Kevin McBride, the Monster of Monaghan" – he could charge 2 Euros a photo and be on Easy Street.

What I loved about McBride was not just his ability to take any punch from Tyson as if it were a glancing blow of a child, but his utter and total devotion to his native land. Few people on Earth carry as much national pride as the Irish. It's a fierce tribal bond, and post-fight photos of McBride draped in the Tricolor will surely adorn pubs for years to come – even if it's a photographic representation of a slow-footed, unremarkable fighter triumphing over a man with a broken spirit and no remaining boxing skills.

Kevin McBride
We may never hear from Kevin McBride again, but he'll always get free beer in Ireland.
After the fight, McBride even broke into the little "Ole, Ole, Ole" chant Irish soccer fans have co-opted over the years, making for another amusing image, and reminding us all that those chants are better done in large groups in the stands at a World Cup match – and not by huge, sweaty Irishmen with no shirt on.

2. Laila: Delivering the Goods
Perhaps the best reason to spend 45 clams on the fight was to see Laila Ali work her craft. She's among the best in the world at it, and is a force to be respected by any standard.

Not her boxing, fool! Her smack-talking!

The Greatest's daughter took care of some female palooka in the ring, then turned to the TV cameras with her pretty face and put on a jabbering display worthy of her old man in his prime. The only thing missing were the rhymes, but we'll forgive Laila because she had worked up a sweat and didn't have any scratch paper nearby.

Her rant climaxed when she watched a replay of her finishing blows to Erin Toughill, and when Toughill was caught on camera, bloodied, swollen and surrendering, Laila chirped: "Look at her face … damn. I jacked her up!"

A beautiful quote, an instant classic. It immediately took its place among my favorite quotes of the year, and certainly my lead horse for Female Boxing Quote of the Year. Insert your joke here, sports fans.

3. Wrigleyville: King of the Hill?
Setting aside the fact that the respective fan bases may be the two most self-absorbed in all of American sports – and we'll forgive them a little, because the history is, indeed, rich – the Cubs-Red Sox interleague tussle wasn't just one of the best-looking ball games you could ever see on Sunday Night Baseball, it also jarred in my mind the thought that Wrigley Field may be the ultimate North American sports experience.

I know, I know. I'm not breaking new ground here, it's just that I found myself engaged in a conversation about the merits of Wrigley versus other sites, and other sports, and in the end, I found myself defending Wrigley as the best of 'em all.

It came down to only a few other candidates:

• Fenway Park, any game.

• Yankee Stadium, October.

• SEC Football games, particularly at Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Georgia.

• Lambeau Field, any game, but preferably in late autumn.

• A hockey game in Canada, but since I don't know anybody from Canada, that limited the argument in its favor.

Save your outraged e-mails, Big Ten football fans, Duke basketball fans, and the like. Listen, I even eliminated all Pac-10 events, just to show you that I am coming clean on this one.

All that said, the combination of stadium-friendly bars, seventh-inning stretch tradition, ivy, town, vibe and lack of a designated-hitter rule make Wrigley the best, in the eye of the Cooler.

I'm just saying, is all.

Sergio Garcia
Maybe the white slacks are big in Spain.

4. White Slacks
Since the Cooler is the home of the open-ended philosophical query, I pose to you: When are white slacks acceptable?

Better yet, at what professional sporting venue are white slacks acceptable?

It's a short list: Croquet, perhaps. Cricket, perhaps. Yacht races, perhaps.

And, apparently, PGA Tour events, as Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott dueled for the Booz Allen Classic on Sunday, both clad in white slacks.

A sport could lose fans when its top competitors are sporting white slacks. I don't own any white slacks. Who does? George Hamilton? Keith Partridge? The estate of former tennis great Don Budge?

Even if I owned white slacks, if I wore them to play golf, I'd get mud stains from foraging for wayward drives, grass stains from tumbling out of a bunker after an awkward lie, mustard stains from a robust bite of a robust pastrami sando at the snack shack, and beer stains from frequent stops by the cart girl.

5. Eva Longoria: What Gives?
So ABC landed the big mid-game interview with the lovely and talented Eva Longoria during another Spurs drubbing of the Pistons. All we want is the dirt on her and Tony Parker, and more dirt on her dissing J.C., and instead we find out from sideline ace Michele Tafoya that Eva issued a moratorium on questions about Tony Parker!

A moratorium? From Eva Longoria? The egos of today's stars have officially spun out of control when Eva Longoria is dropping moratoriums on Michele Tafoya. It would have to be a "Jump the Shark" moment for "Desperate Housewives" when Eva Longoria writes out a contract for a Game 2 NBA Finals interview.

Now, Mike Tyson – there's a guy who's earned the right to dictate terms. He's too beautiful of a character. He bares all, all the time.

I don't even care if I get my money back.

E-mail Brian Murphy at page2murphy@yahoo.com.