Mike Tyson is fighting again this week -- hopefully, in the ring. On Saturday night, he is scheduled to meet Kevin McBride, who I believe also is a professional boxer.
The fight is being held in Washington, currently the largest U.S. city building a taxpayer-funded stadium whose residents have no representation in Congress. Correction: Washington is the only U.S. city building a taxpayer-funded stadium whose residents have no representation in Congress.
(That's my home town for you: bad schools, bad roads, bad water, but we've got our Nats! Washington is the last colony. Of course, Congress could correct this, like, tomorrow. Then there's the solution that my Uncle Cleo -- showing the clarity of vision that helped sustain him through four marriages -- used to offer, "They don't like it, they should move.")
(By the way, on the Tyson undercard, Laila Ali will be fighting Erin Toughill. I have no problem tuning in to women's boxing and, on occasion, I'll gladly also watch women's tennis, women's golf, softball, women's figure skating, women's bowling and women's gymnastics, not to mention women shooting billiards or playing poker. But I will not -- and this is just my own personal quirk -- watch the WNBA. I'd watch a meter maid ticketing cars before I'll watch a woman missing jump shots. This isn't sexist, it's just consumer preference.)
I'm sorry, where were we? Oh, that's right, Mike Tyson is still wandering around out there, in near bankruptcy, looking for another home with 23 bathrooms.
At 20, Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion ever. At 38, he's the highest-paid bearded lady ever.
Back in the day, you couldn't take your eyes off of Tyson when he was in the ring. I'll always remember the Tyson-Michael Spinks bout in 1988. I believed -- and this is somewhat absurd, in retrospect -- that Spinks could outbox Tyson. Then the opening bell sounded, Tyson shot across the canvas and, with Spinks looking like fear caught in headlights, pummeled him unrelentingly for 91 seconds. Fight over.
But ever since he was stunned by 42-to-1 underdog Buster Douglas in 1990, we have watched Tyson (50-5 in the ring, 0-2 in court) become no more than a freak show under the big tent. He still brings in a crowd -- maybe if he gets enough suckers for this upcoming fight, he'll have enough money to finish the other half of his facial tattoo.
(Frankly, I first knew Tyson was on the express to Palookaville when he fell for Robin Givens's shake-and-bake act.)
Buying a Tyson fight on pay-per-view is like playing three-card monte on the street -- it doesn't take long, and when it's over, you're considerably lighter in the wallet.
Here are highlights of Tyson's recent pugilist portfolio:
* He bit Evander Holyfield's ear (and Lennox Lewis's right leg).
* He tried to break Francois Botha's arm.
* He knocked out Orlin Norris after the bell ended Round 1; the fight was ruled a no-contest when Norris couldn't continue.
* He tested positive for marijuana after his "fight" with Andrew Golota, which Golota had quit.
Some people watch auto racing to see the cars crash; many people watch Tyson bouts to see Tyson crash. At this point of his career, Tyson only attracts rubberneckers, shut-ins and Charley Steiner.
I've decided to finally walk away from that macabre, motley group.
If Tyson wants to fight, that's fine by me. I'm just not going to pay a dime to watch him anymore, just as he wouldn't pay a dime to watch me play the cello while balancing the Encyclopedia Britannica on my head.
So I'll save the $44.95 Saturday night and instead venture over to C-SPAN -- maybe some senator from Massachusetts will be fighting some senator from South Dakota over voting rights for D.C.
Ask The Slouch
Q. How do you see the recently announced technological advancement of voice-activated TV remote control affecting your lifestyle? (Jerry Wolff; Houston)
A. Finally, I will have a relationship with someone who understands me.
Q. Andre Agassi was bounced out of the French Open quickly and I'm not even sure he will be ready for Wimbledon. Isn't it time he hung up his racket? (Josh Stein; Fairfax)
A. What would you have him do, co-host "A Current Affair" with Tim Green?
Q. To what do you owe your formidable erudition -- while goofing off at Maryland, did you sneak in a few summer courses at Yale? (Michael Partington; Cleveland)
A. Actually, I once was sitting two rows behind William F. Buckley on a long flight, and, well, I was downwind.
Q. Do you think there is something seriously wrong with an alien who is smart enough to fly through millions of miles to get here, only to land in a swamp and make contact with a couple of functionally illiterate possum hunters in a bass boat? (Dennis Ancell; Cleveland)
A. Shirley, let's double-check our spam filters ASAP.
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