There is still some badness left in Iron Mike after all.
In desperate need of a devastating win, Mike Tyson got just that tonight, flattening Clifford Etienne with a savage right hand reminiscent of Tyson in his prime.
Etienne was knocked flat on his back in the middle of the ring and he lay there as referee Bill Clancy counted him out only 49 seconds into the scheduled 10-round fight.
Tyson then leaned over and helped Etienne to his feet as the crowd of 15,171 at the Pyramid erupted in glee at the sudden ending to a fight that seemed like it would never happen.
Fighting in the same ring where Lennox Lewis gave him a beating in June, Tyson went after Etienne, who cooperated by standing in front of him and throwing punches.
It proved to be a mistake when Tyson threw a right hand that landed flush on Etienne's jaw and sent him sprawling to the canvas.
It was the 16th knockout in the first 1 minute 33 seconds of the first round or less for Tyson and his sixth quickest. He needed it badly to salvage his chances of a rematch with Lewis or a possible third fight with Evander Holyfield.
"To be honest I'm not ready to fight him [Lewis] at this time," Tyson said. "I need more fights. I don't want to get beat up again."
Etienne was picked as an opponent because he figured to give Tyson (50-4, 43 knockouts, 2 no contests) an easy target, and he didn't disappoint.
"I kept my hands up looking for the opening and I got it," Tyson said.
Tyson, more animated before the introductions than usual, had gone into the ring and stood bouncing in front of Etienne (24-2-1) before ripping off the towel over his chest.
When the fight began, Tyson came out slugging, landing a few punches before Etienne grabbed him and pushed him into the ropes, knocking him down.
The action resumed and Tyson missed with a left hook before connecting with the punch that ended the fight.
Etienne has a tendency to go down -- seven times in one fight alone -- and was hand-selected as an opponent because of his weak chin and his style of fighting right in front of an opponent.
"This was the way I had to fight him," Etienne said. "How else could I fight him? I'm okay. He caught me with a good punch."
With his new tattoo framing the left side of his face, Tyson showed renewed determination in the ring.
A circus-like atmosphere enveloped the fight in the days leading up to it. Tyson, claiming to be suffering from the flu, canceled the fight on Monday only to wake up feeling better on Tuesday and deciding to fight.
Things got even better when Etienne staged a mini-boycott of his own before deciding that getting nearly $1 million to fight Tyson was too lucrative to pass up.
"I canceled too many fights in my career," Tyson said. "I wasn't afraid. He needed the money. I always need the money."
By fight time, though, the weirdness had given way to a curiosity over how much Tyson had left at the age of 36 after taking a beating from Lewis in his last fight.
Though the public hasn't lost its fascination with the youngest fighter to win the heavyweight title 17 years ago, even Tyson admitted the fight was crucial if he was to make big money again.
Boxing Note: Banned from the rink for her role in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan nearly a decade ago, former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding did not fare any better in the ring. In a wild bout that was more wrestling than boxing, Harding was beaten by another novice, Samantha Browning, in her pro debut. At the end of four rounds that featured more stumbling than punching, Browning won a split decision.