ATLANTIC CITY, DEC. 7 -- Mike Tyson insists that he's on his way to winning back the heavyweight title, that Saturday night he'll take a step in that direction when he faces Alex Stewart in a scheduled 10-round bout. The odds say that he will walk over Stewart. The former champion is a 9 1/2-1 favorite.
But Tyson isn't the most lopsided favorite on a Convention Center card of seemingly one-sided matches put together by promoter Don King. The Washington area's Simon Brown is. Brown, the International Boxing Federation welterweight champion, will take on an overmatched junior welterweight named Ozzie O'Neal in a non-title bout.
Julio Cesar Chavez (72-0) is expected to have little trouble defending the IBF and World Boxing Council welterweight titles in a 12-round bout against Ahn Kyung Duk (29-1) of South Korea. Heavyweight Razor Ruddock (24-1-1) should have even less trouble with Mike Rouse in a 10-rounder.
Even Tyrell Biggs, 1984 Olympic gold medalist, is on the card; but he's in the position of trying to keep an undistinguished pro career going against a hard-hitting prospect named Rodolfo Marin (17-0). Biggs makes quite an impact when he hits the canvas, as he did against Tyson.
Besides getting a look at some well-known fighters, fans will be able to judge where Tyson (38-1) stands on his "road back" to the title that James "Buster" Douglas took from him in February.
In June, the 24-year-old Tyson knocked out a completely ineffective Henry Tillman in the first round. Stewart is expected to be more of a challenge, but that remains to be seen.
Stewart, 26, has a 26-1 record with 26 knockouts. The one defeat came 13 months ago when he was stopped by current champion Evander Holyfield.
Stewart is ranked fourth by the IBF and World Boxing Association, and seventh by the WBC. He says that the Holyfield fight has given him the experience he needs to take on Tyson, and is offended by the Home Box Office commerical that ends with the words "Pray for Alex Stewart."
Although they're almost the same weight -- Tyson weighed in at 217 3/4, the taller Stewart at 218 -- Tyson is expected to tear through Stewart's defenses the way he did against Michael Spinks in that 91-second horror show. If he doesn't dispose of Stewart with some ease, Tyson won't be on "the road back" at all.
"He's going to come right at me," said Stewart, who at least won't be surprised.
Stewart was born in England and lived there until the age of 15, when he moved to Jamaica. He now lives in Brooklyn. "He may knock me down, but I'll get up and take care of business," Stewart insisted.
The fight was originally scheduled for Sept. 22 but Tyson suffered a deep gash over his right eye from a head butt while sparring with Greg Page on Aug. 31. The injury required 48 stitches.
Tyson-Stewart completes Tyson's $26.5 million multifight deal with HBO. Tyson will earn about $3 million Saturday night, Stewart $600,000.
Brown, who wants to fight a "name" opponent next, criticized Sugar Ray Leonard this week for sidestepping him. Leonard will fight Terry Norris in February. "How could Terry Norris be more marketable than Simon?" Brown asked. "Leonard doesn't want to fight me."
Brown had just finished pounding a sparring partner, looking far too much like his tuneup foe O'Neal, who has been knocked out in five of his last nine fights.
Chavez has scored three quick knockouts since stopping Meldrick Taylor near the end of their 12-rounder in March.