Eight months after Lennox Lewis gave him a brutal beating, Mike Tyson returns to the same ring Saturday night trying to resurrect his career against a fellow ex-con who has trouble staying upright.
After a silly week that did more to spark interest in the fight than it deserves, the newly tattooed Tyson goes into the ring in desperate need of a spectacular knockout if he wants future fights with Lewis or Evander Holyfield.
If Tyson can't beat Clifford Etienne, it could be the beginning of the end for a tumultuous yet always interesting reign of a man who was once the most feared heavyweight around.
The fight is scheduled for 10 rounds, but if it goes that far, even Tyson's handlers acknowledge they may have to reassess the fighting future of the puncher who once terrorized the division.
"He not only has to win, but he has to win strong," said Showtime executive Jay Larkin, whose network has helped bankroll Tyson's fights since he was released from prison in 1995.
To ensure that he does win, promoters came up with what they believe to be a perfect opponent in Etienne -- a raw fighter who stands in front of his opposition and isn't afraid to trade punches. Etienne (24-1-1, 17 knockouts) started boxing while serving 10 years in prison for armed robbery.
"Contrary to what people say, he can take a punch," said Les Bonano, Etienne's manager.
In his last fight, the 36-year-old Tyson (49-4, 43 knockouts) was beaten and battered before being stopped in the eighth round by Lewis on June 8. He managed to land only 49 punches against Lewis and seemed unable to throw more than one punch at a time.
"I know how to fight," Tyson said. "I'm just going in there to do my thing."
Tyson didn't train for a week because of various illness and ailments, and his trainer was concerned he could look bad if he doesn't get an early knockout.
"I'm worried about his conditioning if the fight goes into the later rounds," Freddie Roach said.
Tyson has a guaranteed rematch with Lewis and a potentially lucrative third fight with Evander Holyfield.
Etienne will make nearly $1 million, more than his previous fights combined -- not bad for a fighter coming off a draw in his last fight against a lumbering Francois Botha, who knocked him down twice.
Tyson may be a fading heavyweight, but if last week is any indication, he's still the oddest fighter on the planet. Tyson skipped training, claimed he had a bad back and then said he was too sick to fight. A day after the fight was called off, he woke up feeling better and declared it on.
If the main event isn't enough of a strange happening by itself, fans in Memphis will be treated to one on the undercard. Tonya Harding makes her pro debut against Samantha Browning. Harding had one fight, a celebrity match against Paula Jones; Browning says she has been in plenty of bar fights but never with gloves on.