Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's return to the
ring will most likely be in October on Showtime, which leaves open a potential December
Tyson pay-per-view fight.
Showtime executives said the network is targeting Oct. 2 as
the date for Tyson's first fight since being released from jail on a road-rage
assault charge. The network had looked at a potential September date for the fight.
"Right now, they are just dates on the calendar, but
[Oct. 2] is a date we're targeting," Showtime Sports and Event Programming
executive vice president Jay Larkin said.
It's still unclear who Tyson's first opponent
will be. Published reports suggested Zeljko Mavrovic or Axel Schulz, but Larkin said
Schulz has signed for another fight, and he is no longer considered an opponent.
"We're in discussions with Shelly [Finkel,
Tyson's manager] about who Tyson's next opponent will be, but we're a long
way from finalizing [a deal]," Larkin said.
If Tyson fights in October, Larkin said, there's a
good chance that he will appear in a possible Dec. 11 PPV fight. "It's a clear
date for all of us," he added.
Potential opponents for that fight could be Shannon Briggs
or a rematch with former heavyweight champion Francois Botha. Tyson and Botha fought in
January, with Botha winning most of the fight before getting knocked out by Tyson in the
fifth round. The fight drew 700,000 PPV buys.
Botha and Briggs fight each other on PPV Aug. 7. "If
Botha wins, a Tyson-Botha rematch is not an uninteresting prospect," Larkin said.
"But if Briggs rises to the occasion, it could be Briggs."
One opponent not being discussed is former heavyweight
champion George Foreman. Earlier published reports claimed that Foreman was interested in
fighting Tyson, but Larkin said the 50-year-old fighter had yet to contact Tyson's
representatives concerning a bout.
"[Tyson-Foreman] is fantasy; there's nothing
behind that rumor," Larkin said. "I think it would be a fantastic fight for the
industry, but we have no indication [of interest from Foreman]."
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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