As the late Gilda Radner used to say when portraying "Rosanna Rosanna Danna" on Saturday Night Live, "It's always something" seems to be the three words you can use after a Mike Tyson fight.
It wasn't the TV show SNL, but it was live on Showtime Saturday night and, as we've come to expect, there is a controversy after another Mike Tyson fight. The fight took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and for the first time in a long time, the place wasn't sold out. The arena was only about three-quarters full (12,000+ fans, most comped) which is low for a Tyson fight.
You know what happened, but if you didn't see it, I'll give you my version of the late hit by Tyson that floored Orlin Norris after round one ended.
Tyson definitely hit Norris after the bell rang. It wasn't even a close call. This wasn't a case of starting a punch before the bell and it landing after the bell had rung. This was a late hit well after the bell rang and the bell rang five times in quick succession so all in the ring should have heard it.
Tyson claims he "didn't hear the bell" and the punch was thrown "in the heat of battle." That is possible, but unlikely. Be that as it may, the punch was thrown, referee Richard Steele ruled it accidental while penalizing Tyson two points before he and all of us knew the fight would not continue. Even Norris said afterward he thought it was accidental and not intentional, for what that's worth.
The former heavyweight champ Tyson had his paycheck withheld for now by the Nevada State Athletic Commission while Norris got paid. The commission will look at the tape and decide whether to release Tyson's money (A reported $8.7 million) later this week - and I think they will.
The Tyson camp, including his manager and promoter and Tyson himself ,say that Norris could have continued and he tanked it and called it a night, claiming he injured his knee going down from the punch. That's a cheap shot against Norris, who did nothing wrong, I might add!
Blaming Norris is wrong, He fought a decent first round and, as many in the past haven't done, survived that first round against Tyson. He looked fairly competitive and if the fight would have continued, Norris would have had a nice lead with the two-point penalty and assuming he stayed out of Tyson's power range, likely would have won a decision.
However, that's conjecture on my part and Tyson did look better against Norris than he did against his last opponent, Frans Botha. Despite missing some wild right hand shots during the round, Tyson showed signs of better training and better preparation for this fight than he had shown for the Botha fight.
Tyson now has a real trainer, Tommy Brooks, working with him (some may remember Brooks when he was here in Carson City training Henry Akinwande at the Ormsby House a few summers back) and some capable corner people. After the ring rust wore off and Tyson got his timing down a little better, he could have whacked Norris out later - but we'll never know.
Since it's impossible to get inside Tyson's head, we'll never know if that late hit was intentional or not. But since the referee ruled it accidental - how do you penalize a fighter two points for something unintentional? - we'll have to live with that and I expect the commission to release his money and keep the official ruling of a no-contest fight.
The same can be said of Norris. Since we can't get inside his head to know if he really could have continued or not, we'll never know for sure. But I will say Norris took advantage of a situation he didn't create and got himself a nice payday for one round of fighting.
And since we opened this with a quote from Gilda, we'll end with the same. Another of her famous sayings after she misunderstood something was "Never mind." I think that fits here, too.
- A GOOD SHOW - Saturday night at the Boys & Girls Club in Reno, the "Ray Tavares Memorial Invitational Amateur" fight card was a rousing success. The card was put together by Ray's widow, Thelma Tavares.
"It was beautiful and a really nice show," Tavares said about the 19-bout card. "It was a packed house with over 300 fans in attendance. They held a tribute to Ray and the traditional 10-count was tolled for Ray before the fights started."
Two Carson City Boxing Club fighters were on the card. Dwayne Pope of the CCBC won his fight against Reno's Bobby Martinez by decision and Wade Smith lost by decision to Tito Torres from Medford, Ore.
In the main event, Carlos Mendoza of the Reno Jets won by decision over Medford's Nathan James.
The non-profit card was hosted by the Reno Jets team with all proceeds going to benefit their equipment fund.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.