Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson will not have ferret neglect charges added to his criminal record after authorities said they could not prove who owned the ferrets that were found at his Las Vegas estate.

"We believe that the ferrets were neglected, but Mike Tyson was not at home--nor present during the incident," said Donna Rosenberg of the Clark County (Nev.) District Attorney's office. "He left them in the care of other people, and it's really unclear who was really responsible."

The animals caused a stir after one was found dead and the other was found malnourished at Tyson's estate last month. Darryl Francis, one of Tyson's personal assistants, said he was caring for the ferrets and sought aid when they appeared sick.

"Mike ain't no ferret abuser," Francis said earlier this week. . . .

Tyson is scheduled to fight Britain's Julius Francis Jan. 29 in Manchester, England. The fight would mark Tyson's first bout outside the United States in almost a decade. Francis, 35, is the British Commonwealth heavyweight champion and is 21-7 with 11 knockouts. . . .

Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad could fight a rematch June 17 if promoters can agree on terms in talks to be held next week in New York. De La Hoya is scheduled to fight Derell Coley on Feb. 26 at Madison Square Garden. . . .

Laila Ali, showing the flash and punching power of her famous father, won her third straight bout with a second-round knockout of Nicolyn Armstrong in Detroit.


World Records Set

Sweden's Therese Alshammar eclipsed the women's 100-meter freestyle record and teammate Anna-Karin Kammerling broke the women's 50-meter butterfly record at the European championships in Oeiras, Portugal.

Alshammar was timed in 52.80 seconds, beating the mark of 53.01 set by China's Le Jingyi in 1993. Kammerling was timed in 25.64, bettering the mark of 26.05 set by American Jenny Thompson in College Park last month.


Toronto's Delgado Re-Signs

The Toronto Blue Jays re-signed first baseman Carlos Delgado to a three-year, $36 million contract. Delgado batted .272 with 44 home runs and tied the team record with 134 RBI last season. He could have become a free agent after next season. . . .

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday and will probably be out until May. . . .

Turning down more money for a chance to go home, Joe Girardi reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract with the Cubs. The agreement is thought to be worth about $6 million over three years and is subject to Girardi passing a physical. . . .

Tony Tarasco, best known as the Baltimore Orioles outfielder who had a fly ball snatched away by a 12-year-old boy in the 1996 American League Championship Series, has signed a two-year contract to play in Japan.

Winter Sports

Maier Hurt in Fall

Hermann Maier, who has won five of his six World Cup races this year, was left with a bruised spine and slight concussion after a crash during practice in Val d'Isere, France.

The Austrian star intends to race today in his bid to win a downhill for the first time at Val d'Isere. He also plans to compete in the giant slalom on Sunday. . . .

Johann Muehlegg, a German competing for Spain, stunned the favored Scandinavians in a men's 15-kilometer freestyle race in Sappada, Italy, to give Spain its first-ever victory in cross-country skiing. Muehlegg was timed in 34 minutes 12.7 seconds.

Estonian Kristina Smigun won the women's 10-kilometer freestyle in 27:35. . . .

France's Matthieu Bozzetto and Sweden's Aasa Windahl won World Cup giant slalom snowboard races in Whistler, B.C.


With Shortfall, a Sale

In an unprecedented move, organizers will sell 118,000 tickets to the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony of next year's Sydney Olympics to help make up a $65 million sponsorship shortfall. The International Olympic Committee gave its approval to the plan yesterday. It will be staged two days before the opening ceremony, and ticket sales are expected to raise around $13 million.


Tournament Is in the Money

The Evian Masters will become the richest prize in women's golf next season with a purse of $1.8 million. The tournament, jointly sanctioned by the American LPGA and the Ladies European Tour, will be played at Royal Evian Golf Club on the shores of Lake Geneva, France.